Know what to do when the sheriff comes looking for you.
Summary: Has your local sheriff been looking for you? Find out why they might be trying to track you down and what to do about it.
If you have a sheriff coming to your home to look for you, or you have heard the sheriff is looking for you, there are a few reasons why this might be happening. First of all, the sheriff could be attempting to serve you a subpoena, an eviction, or to see why you missed jury duty. In most cases though, you will have the sheriff looking for you because they are attempting to serve you with papers.
Being “served” is the same thing as being delivered a note by the courts. You might be served with a lawsuit for debt, served with papers for a divorce, served with an eviction notice, or another legal action. These papers will let you know exactly what you need to do. For example, you may need to appear in court, pay fines, or answer the summons.
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How to find out if you have a warrant
There are a few methods to understand why a sheriff is looking for you. First, you can look to see if there are local records for your county court or sheriff's department. If you believe that there is a federal warrant, you will need to contact a different branch. Another aspect is that you can call a local bail bondsman.
Once the sheriff finds you, they are required to ask you your name. Once they have confirmed your identity, they will give you your papers. You will then need to go through the steps outlined in the documents to ensure you remain in compliance with the law.
What happens when you are served with papers
When you are served with papers that are notifying you of legal action from a debt collector or creditor, it is the act of being given a complaint by the court. You will also receive a summons to appear in court on a certain date, and information regarding how to respond. It is essential that you respond to the summons, otherwise there will be an automatic judgment awarded against you. This is the same as losing the case.
Most often a creditor will send multiple notices before filing for a suit. Legally, the debt collector or creditor will have to show the court its attempts to collect on your debt, as well as a reason to sue. One thing to mention is that if you believe the debt is not valid, you can request proof and documentation of the debt. If they cannot prove that the debt is yours or that they own it, the case will be dismissed.
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The following conditions must be met to serve you papers:
- Must be within the court's jurisdiction: The court that is serving you is only allowed to do so if it is in their jurisdiction. This means they are required to have a registered address in the area of the court that is suing you.
- You must be physically at the address to be served: As mentioned, they are required to ask your name and give you the documents in person. Despite this, a court summons, complaint, or subpoena can usually be sent through registered mail. If you sign to accept the registered mail, you will be considered served.
How to deal with a debt collection lawsuit
There are a few options when dealing with a debt collection lawsuit. The best plan is to settle outside of court, which will save you time, money, and effort. If you do end up going to court there are a few ways to handle the situation.
- Challenge the right to sue/burden of proof. Debts are typically sold at least once, but often more times than one. This means you are most likely not being served with a lawsuit from your original creditor. When debts are sold and change hands, information can be lost. This is why it is essential to ask the institution that is suing you, to prove their ownership of the debt with a paper trail. This is also known as the burden of proof. If they cannot prove the debt belongs to you, then your case will be dropped.
- Look into the statute of limitations. Some debts are too old to collect on. Every state has different laws when it comes to the statute of limitations, but it is generally anywhere from four to six years. If the debt is older than the statute limit, the court will dismiss it.
- Serve a countersuit. If you believe that your debt is not valid, you can file a counterclaim. This should only be done in the case that you believe the other side has done something illegal. If so, your suit may cancel out theirs.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
Respond with SoloSuit
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance
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