What legal action can happen to a person going to trial for a debt that they still cannot pay?

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What legal action can happen to a person going to trial for a debt that they still cannot pay?

My son has to go to trial in 7 days for non-payment of a debt from a now defunct computer store. He is 26 years old and currently a full time student living at home. He does not work has no money and no valuable assets. What can happen to him? Can they arrest him? The debt is for $3000.

Asked on January 23, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can only get arrested for a debt if--

1) There is evidence that you never intended to repay it--that is, you committed criminal fraud or theft in taking out the debt.

2) You disobey court orders, such as to provide information about your assets and income, which puts you in contempt of court.

Otherwise, the creditor would seem to not be able to do much to him--now. After all, they can't take property he doesn't own, put a lien on non-existent real estate, or garnish wages he doesn't have. However, a creditor who wins a judgment has years--often a decade or more--to try to enforce it, so they could try to collect from him in the future, when he has money or assets; in the meantime, the debt will be accruing interest and becoming larger. He will also  have the judgment on his credit record, which can affect not just his access to credit but also his employability (many employers do credit checks of employees); it can also effect his ability to rent an apartment. You may wish to consider helping him pay the debt if possible, to avoid this.


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