How Can A Debtor Be Thrown In Jail For Not Paying?

Somebody owes you money: can you throw them into jail? The answer to that question is almost certainly no. There are no such things as debtor’s prisons anymore. Those were abolished hundreds of years ago and if someone owes you money you just can’t throw them into jail as leverage to try to force them to pay you.

But what you can do if you get judgment against them is have the court issue an order compelling them to be examined under oath as to their finances so that you can find out where their bank accounts are and can find out where they work so you can garnish their wages, or seize other property so you can pay down your debt.

Jail Time

If that debtor doesn’t show up after being served by the sheriff or a process server with that court order then you can swear out a bench warrant and have the sheriff or the police go and arrest that person for being in contempt of court in not responding to the order compelling them to testify and deliver over the assets and the information about the assets. That can be powerful leverage to collect from them, but if they fully cooperate and they give you all the information and it just turns out that there is no assets available to pay your claim then you’re pretty stuck and you cannot put them into jail.