What is Attachment?
Attachment is the seizing of a person’s property to satisfy a judgment. In a sense, you are “attaching” your judgment to the debtor’s assets.
There are various methods for carrying out attachment in Oklahoma, including recording the judgment, seeking a garnishment, or having the court issue a writ of execution to the sheriff. Each of these methods is explained below. The writ is a court order to the Sheriff to execute the judgment by seizing the debtor’s personal property.
Three Methods for Enforcing a Judgment by Attachment in Oklahoma
1) Recording the Judgment with the County Land Records
The simplest form of attachment is to file your judgment with the County Clerk (separate from the Court Clerk) in the same county where the debtor owns any real estate. The County Clerk will record the money judgment with the land records so that when a person reviews the title or deed to the debtor’s real property, they will be notified of the Judgment. If the land is bought or sold, the judgment must be paid first.
The only problem with this method is that you must wait for the real property to be sold by the owner. You cannot initiate your own foreclosure, unless the judgment was granted in rem, meaning against the property itself. Ordinarily, judgments against a person for money are granted in personam, meaning against the person who owes the money. The judgment follows the person, and may attach to any money the person obtains, such as proceeds from a sale.
Judgments in rem, such as mechanics’ liens, are granted against the real estate, and follow the real estate, even if it is owned by someone else than the person who owes the money.
2) Executing a Writ on the Debtor’s Personal Property
A writ is a court order to the Sheriff to execute the judgment by seizing the debtor’s personal property.
If the Debtor has valuable property, or even cash, that could satisfy the judgment, how do you go about obtaining that property or cash? There is actually a procedure for enforcing a judgment by attachment against specific items of value or even cash itself.
The Judgment Creditor first submits an application for a writ to the judge. After the judge signs the writ, the creditor then delivers it to the Sheriff and pays any applicable fee the Sheriff may charge for such services.
Once the Sheriff receives the writ, the Sheriff will arrange a time to serve the writ and execute it according to its terms.
The Sheriff’s authority is limited by the writ and therefore the Sheriff may only seize whatever property is specified in the writ. However, a writ may be specific as to what precise item is to be seized; or a writ may be general and direct the sheriff to seize whatever he finds.
Using a General Writ of Execution to attach and seize cash or other property
A General Writ of Execution may direct the Sheriff to locate the debtor and seize whatever personal property is in the possession of the debtor at that time, including any coins or cash that is physically on the debtor’s person.
The best and most efficient use of a general writ of execution is when a creditor has a judgment against a debtor that operates a cash business, such as a restaurant or retail store. The creditor may request the court issue a general writ and then have the sheriff serve and execute the writ on the debtor’s business by opening up the cash registers and seizing whatever funds are available until the judgment is satisfied.
3) Attachment by Garnishment
Garnishment is a very effective manner of collecting a judgment, and you can read more about using garnishments here.
Hiring a Lawyer to do all of this for you
OKC attorney Travis Charles Smith is available for judgment enforcement and collection in Oklahoma. Please contact us to set up an appointment.