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Roy Oppenheim on Debtors’ Prisons in 2011

By Oppenheim Law on Florida Law, Foreclosure, Real Estate & Roy Oppenheim

Hi, this is Foreclosure Defense Attorney and Legal Blogger, Roy Oppenheim. I want to talk to you a little bit about this notion of debtor prisons coming back to the United States in 2011. Just recently the press has been talking about thousands of people that have ended up in jail because they owed money. Now that supposedly the idea of debtor prisons have supposedly not existed in this country for well over 100, 150 years, yet thousands of people are being put in jail by judges because they owe a debt. I want to explain a little bit how that happens and how most importantly to make sure that that does not happen to you.

Typically what’s happening is when you owe a debt and you do absolutely nothing about it, you end up with a judgment. Once you have that judgment, the person who you owe money to is permitted to try and collect that money from you. Some of the things that they’re permitted to do is they’re allowed to issue an order to take your deposition, request information about you, and in those circumstances, you need to report to either a stenographer or someone’s law firm to give a statement. It doesn’t mean that they’re allowed to take money out of your pocket there. But they’re allowed to ask you where your money is, who you work for, where your assets are, and they’re permitted to do that. If you don’t show up for those kinds of situations, you can be held in contempt of court and a judge then is allowed to issue an order to pick you up and hold you in contempt and throw you in jail.

Typically, when you agree to do the deposition they should allow you out, but sometimes what the judges are doing is they’re forcing you to enter into some sort of settlement with the judgment creditor before they let you out. That is wrong, it’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s un-American.

So how do you avoid making that happen to you? It’s very simple. You don’t put your head in the sand, you don’t ignore the situation. If you’re in foreclosure, for example, you make sure that deficiency judgment is not entered against you, you make sure you get legal counsel, you make sure you’re represented, and you make sure you know your rights. Make sure that does not happen to you, make sure that you don’t become part of this debtor nation.

Roy Oppenheim, from the trenches, have a good weekend.