California has fifty-eight counties. For judgment owners; the starting point for attempting to attach most types of available judgment debtor assets, is to buy a writ of execution (abbreviated as a writ) from the court. Writs expire, so it is best to buy writs only when a potential available judgment debtor asset has been located.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
The most common judgment-related levies are attempts to attach your judgment debtor’s bank account(s) or wages. With bank or job levies, one usually picks the Sheriff branch closest to the employer’s/bank’s service of levy location.
You need to buy one writ for every county that you plan to make a levy attempt in. You will need to pay another Sheriff’s levy fee, for each asset or wage you want to attempt to levy, using the new writs. If the writs are not purchased the same day, then each writ will need to show a different amount owed, because of daily interest accrual.
Although each Sheriff department has their own policies, most judgment experts include two copies of the Sheriff’s instructions, and three additional copies of the writ, with each package of instructions.
In the situation where your judgment debtor has multiple available assets within the same county, for example when they have accounts with two banks in the same county; you begin by buying a standard writ of execution for that county. Then, along with your standard levy instruction letter to the Sheriff, you include instructions for them to do a second levy on the next bank, preferably that same day. You must pay another levying officer’s fee for your second levy attempt.
What if your judgment debtor has bank accounts in two counties, or the second bank’s service of levy location is in a different California County? What if your debtor banks in one county and their employer is based in a different county? In such situations, you need to buy two writs, one for each county, and then contact each county’s Sheriff’s office.
When levying bank accounts, it is a good idea to coordinate with all the Sheriffs, so that all bank levies occur at almost the same time. If you levy their first bank account a few days before the next one, your debtor might close their second account before your second levy hits.
Some counties are so large (Los Angeles, California for example) that their civil Sheriff’s departments have several locations. In this situation, you might want to call a few of their offices, to check which ones currently having the shortest waiting times to get levies served. The bigger counties might have Sheriff websites that lets you enter a zip code where you want your levy served, to show you which Sheriff’s office to submit your paperwork to.
In California, when there are multiple civil Sheriff offices in one county; after you submit your original writ, or a levy gets performed; all subsequent levies must go to the first Sheriff’s office that holds your original writ. That Sheriff’s office will then route your future levy requests to the appropriate Sheriff office within their county.
The Sheriffs in some counties allow you to hire a registered process server to serve most levies, instead of the Sheriff; which usually offers you much better control and response times. Of course, you still need to pay the Sheriff to open a levy file.