Attachments and Levies
Authored By: Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Attachments and Levies
A person or business you owe money to is called a creditor. If a creditor wants to force you to pay a debt, they first must ask the court for a judgment. Many people feel that having a judgment against them is the worst possible thing. A judgment simply is a piece of paper at the local courthouse that says you owe someone a certain sum of money. This allows the creditor to use legal actions to collect the judgment. However, the creditor first must get a judgment. A creditor with a judgment is called a "judgment-creditor."
What is a levy (or attachment)?
A levy is when a Sheriff or Deputy comes to your home and makes a list of property that can be sold to pay your judgment.
What types of property can't be attached or levied upon?
A judgment-creditor can levy on only some of your personal property. A levy can't be placed on the following items, which are exempt (free) from levy.
• Up to $5,000 worth of household goods.
• Up to $1,000 worth of clothing.
• Medically prescribed health aids.
• Up to $10,000 worth of tools and equipment you need for work or school.
• Up to $2,000 "equity" value in a motor vehicle. "Equity" means the fair market value minus the amount you still owe on the vehicle.
• Up to $5,000 worth of additional property, if you have listed it in a Homestead Deed filed with the Circuit Court.
A levy can't be placed on property that you don't own.
What happens when a levy is placed on my property?
If a levy is placed on your property, the judgment-creditor can ask the Sheriff to take it and sell it. You then would receive a notice of sale. If the Sheriff sells your property, the Sheriff keeps 10% plus necessary expenses and costs, and the rest goes to the judgment-creditor to be paid on the judgment.
What should I do if a levy is placed on exempt property?
If a levy is placed on exempt property, you should object right away. You do this by filing a Motion to Quash Levy with the court that issued the levy. You may be able to do this by yourself, but it is not recommended. You may lose property if you don't know the law. You should get legal help. You should get a court hearing as soon as possible to object to the levy. At the hearing, you have a chance to explain why the levy isn't proper. If the Judge agrees, the levy is released.