A wage execution is where the court orders a deduction from the defendant’s wages in order to pay a judgment. It is sometimes referred to as a “wage garnishment” or a “wage attachment”.
Not all criminal sentences result in a jail sentence; sometimes the court orders the defendant to pay certain costs. Wage executions are usually issued to defendants who have to pay:
- Criminal fines
- Restitution to victims
- Court fees and other costs
The way that wage executions work is that the defendant’s employer will be sent a notice instructing them to deduct a certain amount from the defendant’s wages. The employer will then remit the monetary amount to a state agency, which will then forward the monies towards the payment of the defendant’s debt.
The maximum amount that may be deducted from the defendant’s income will usually be stated in a state statute or in the court guidelines. Generally speaking, only up to 25% of the person’s weekly disposable income can be deducted through a wage execution. Wage executions are very similar to wage garnishment in a civil lawsuit.
Can a Wage Execution be Challenged?
Yes- the defendant can usually request a hearing to challenge the wage execution. This can be done have the entire order lifted, or for a deduction of the wage amount. However, the defendant is most likely to prevail if an error was made in the judgment, or if they have a compelling reason to challenge the wage execution. Challenging the attachment will be difficult if the only reason is that the defendant simply refuses to pay.
Thus, in order to challenge a wage execution, the defendant must submit a written statement of their objection, along with reasons for the removal or reduction of the payments. The court will then review the defendant’s background to determine whether a modification is justified.
What if the Employer Doesn’t Comply With the Wage Execution Requirements?
In a wage execution, the defendant’s employer actually plays an important role. They are the ones responsible for transferring the defendant’s wages to the appropriate authorities. Notice will be sent to the employer that the defendant has a wage execution levied against them. The employer will have to follow the requirements of the wage execution, or face penalties under the law (such as criminal fines or a contempt order).
Some of the requirements for employers include:
- Notice must be provided to the employee (defendant) that a portion of their wages will be deducted for the judgment payments
- The employer may not discipline, terminate, or otherwise punish an employer because they have a wage execution against them
- The employer may not deduct less than the amount stated in the wage execution documents
So for example if an employer terminates an employee due to a wage execution, the employer will likely have to take steps to remedy the employee’s losses. This can include reinstating them to their previous position, and reimbursing them for lost wages during the time of unemployment.
On the other hand, some state laws allow an employer to take disciplinary action against an employee who has had a certain number of wage executions in a given time frame (for example, after 7 wage executions in one year). This can vary by region, so the employer needs to be careful that they are following the wage execution laws in their area.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Wage Execution?
Wage executions can present challenges for both the defendant and their employer. If you need assistance with a wage execution, you may wish to contact criminal lawyer in your area. A qualified attorney can represent persons who are faced with a wage execution and provide them with legal counsel. Or, an attorney can be of great assistance to an employer who needs to oversee the deductions.