Lady of JusticeWhat is a Writ of Execution? A writ of execution in North Carolina is a court document ordering the sheriff of the county in which you live to seize nonexempt property to satisfy or pay a money judgment against you. If you are being served a writ of execution, then you have already been sued in a court and lost your case. Normally, a money judgment would be ordered against you by the judge in your court case. The writ of execution is an order directing the sheriff to seize your nonexempt property and sell it at a sheriff’s auction to pay all or a portion of the money judgment against you.

Many times clients come into my office with a writ of execution notice from the sheriff’s department.  The client is sometimes surprised  that they were served this document by the sheriff’s department.  The writ of execution may be from a judgment  that is many years old.  The time line or scenario is usually as follows:

Several years ago  you received a document  from the sheriff’s  department.  You looked that the document and  foolishly threw it in the trash.  The document was  law suit.  You had 30 days to file an answer and respond to the lawsuit. Since you did not formally and legally respond to the lawsuit,  the attorney for the judgment creditor  appeared in court and told the judge you did not respond to the lawsuit.  Of course, you do not attend the court hearing . The judge then checked the court file and there was no legal response by you  on the lawsuit.  The judge and then entered a “default judgment” order against you.  In other words, since you did not legally respond to the lawsuit,  you automatically lost the lawsuit.  There is now a judgment against you.

Several weeks or several years later you probably received another document  known as  a  “notice of right to designate exemptions” (see our blog on this topic) .You probably looked at this document and also threw it in the trash.  This is just what the judgment creditors attorney want you to do.  Since you did not exempt any of your property under the North Carolina General Statutes  in the  notice of right to designate exemptions form,  all of your property can be seized by the Sheriff’s office  with the writ of execution.  In other words, the sheriff  can seizure furniture,  clothes, automobiles,  and sell them at the Sheriff’s auction to pay  on the  judgment against you.

What you need to be especially careful of regarding a writ of execution,  is the Sheriff’s Department  can go into your bank accounts  and take money out of the bank accounts .  Usually the sheriff’s department does not inform you there going to do this.  It will probably put you in a very bad mood  when you get notice that your checks are bouncing  and you do not understand why .  The reason is  your bank accounts are now empty and the sheriff department, via the writ of execution, has seized all the money from the bank accounts.

In the event you receive a notice of a writ of execution, you should immediately contact an attorney ,  such as Duncan Law at 704-297-4000,  to get legal advice  as to what steps  are needed to protect your property.   chapter 7  or chapter 13 bankruptcy  may be an option for you  to stop the writ of execution.  Remember, writs of execution  are very serious  court proceedings.