Execution Sales in a Criminal Case

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What is an Execution Sale in a Criminal Case?

In a criminal case, the defendant is sometimes allowed to pay a criminal fine rather than serve time in jail.  If the defendant is unable to pay their criminal fine, the court has a number of options for obtaining funds from the defendant.  One of these options is an Execution Sale. 

An execution sale causes the defendant’s property to be sold so that the defendant can pay their criminal fine.  Such sales are sometimes called an “execution and sale” or a “sale in execution” depending on the jurisdiction.  State laws may vary regarding the details of execution sales.

How do Execution Sales Work?

In an execution sale, the defendant’s property is seized and claimed by law enforcement authorities.  The property is usually sold at a public auction, although private sales are sometimes allowed.  Execution sales deal mostly with the defendant’s personal property rather than their real property, as real property sales can be much more complex.   

Proceeds from the sales are then used to pay the defendant’s criminal fines.  Leftover proceeds are sometimes placed in a state “Crime Victim’s Fund”, which reimburses the injured party for their losses.   

Are There any Alternatives to Execution Sales?

In order to obtain criminal fine payments, court may have several other options besides execution sales.  A common method is “garnishment”, wherein the defendant’s monetary funds are directly accessed from their wages or bank accounts.  The court uses the money directly for the fine payments.

Another common alternative to execution sales are foreclosure sales.  These are sales wherein a lien is placed on the defendant’s real property such as their home.  The real property is then sold, and the proceeds again go towards paying the criminal fine.  

Whether execution sales, garnishment, or foreclosures are used will depend mostly on the court’s discretion.  The court will usually consider which method will work best with the defendant, as well as which will be most efficient in terms of paying the fine.

What is a “Judicial Sale”?  Is this Different From an Execution Sale?

Judicial sales are very similar to execution sales in that the defendant’s property is sold for the purpose of collecting fine payments.  However, the two can be different in many respects.  Compare the following characteristics of each:

Thus, judicial sales are somewhat more formal than execution sales because they involve more monitoring by the court.  In both judicial and execution sales, the property usually must be appraised to determine the value before it can be sold.  Also, the defendant must be given proper notice in both types of sales

There are also “Special Execution Sales”, which are much more similar to judicial sales than a normal execution sale.  Special execution sales must also be confirmed by the court and are also issued through a court order enforceable by law. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Execution Sales in a Criminal Case?

Execution sales in a criminal case can be crucial when it comes to paying criminal fines.  If you have any questions or need help with an execution sale, you may wish to find a criminal defense lawyer in your area.  Your attorney can advise you on how to proceed, and will inform you of your rights and obligations under law.  Most execution sales depend on the specific laws of each state, which can be interpreted through the assistance of a lawyer.

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Last Modified: 01-12-2012 11:36 AM PST

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