This article discusses the paperwork needed to levy (garnish) a judgment debtor’s bank or checking account at a bank or credit union in California, as per the laws CCP 699.080, CCP 695.220, CCP 700.110, CCP 700.140, CCP 700.160, and Government Code 26720.9. Other states have different laws, however the paperwork and procedures to levy a judgment debtor’s bank account should be similar.
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 first step is to get a writ of execution (in California, EJ-130) from the court for the county where your judgment debtor’s bank account is. The Sheriff always needs the original writ copy.
A notice of levy form will also be required, in California this is Form EJ-150. Make at least three copies of all pages of the original court-stamped writ of execution. Also make three copies of the EJ-150, and all the other paperwork and forms needed for a bank levy.
Within the state of California, each of the 58 counties and their civil Sheriff departments have different policies. In some counties, the Sheriff serves bank levies, in other counties you must hire a Registered Process Server (RPS) to serve bank levies. Usually, less copies of paperwork, and sometimes even less forms are required, when the Sheriff serves bank levies themselves.
What the Sheriff or a Registered Process Server needs:
1) The original writ of execution, and several copies of it.
2) A check for $35 payable to the Sheriff, so they will open a Sheriff levy file.
3) A letter of instruction to the Sheriff, specifying what you want done. You want the Sheriff to levy your judgment debtor’s bank account to satisfy your judgment. Be sure to include information about your debtor’s bank name and location, the court case number, the creditor (you), and the judgment debtor. The Sheriff instructions must be signed by the creditor, and I recommend signing with a pen having blue ink. If a RPS is used, they should get a copy of the signed Sheriff letter, which they can get “date stamped” so they can prove they opened the Sheriff levy file before they performed the bank levy.
The judgment debtor’s bank is served with:
1) The original writ of execution, or a copy of it.
2) The original notice of levy form (EJ-150). The Sheriff or RPS serves the bank with this notice of levy, and it is signed at the time of service.
3) The original memorandum of garnishee form.
The judgment debtor (after the levy is completed) is mailed:
1) A copy of the writ of execution.
2) A copy of the notice of levy.
3) The two exemption forms EJ-155 and EJ-160, which informs the judgment debtor of their possible right to claim exemptions in dollar amounts. If exemptions are claimed and granted, they may defeat the creditor’s levy attempt. These forms are only served on natural persons, not on corporation debtors (See CCP 700.010).
The Sheriff (after the levy is completed) is sent (within five days of the levy):
1) The original writ of execution.
2) The original notice of levy, dated and signed. Note that there seems to be no law requiring this, however most Sheriffs require it.
3) A copy of the memorandum of garnishee.
4) The proof of the service on the bank (which should include the individual’s name and position at the bank).
5) The proof of service by mail on the judgment debtor.
After the bank levy, the bank sends the judgment debtor’s money to the Sheriff, and the Sheriff then holds the money for sufficient time to insure that no claims of exemptions have been filed. Then, the Sheriff pays the creditor (deducting their small fee to write a check) and eventually returns the original writ to the court, showing their accounting of any money levied and paid to the judgment creditor.