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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 08:56 PM
Original message
Question: Is personal debt subject to criminal or civil law?
Looking for help with this, hope this board might be the best place to get an informed answer.

Let's say you have personal consumer debt, can't pay and it goes into collection. Do they go after you with civil proceedings or can it be considered criminal somehow?

This came up in a thread on GD but as a side issue and quickly disappeared.

Any help....or links on the topic maybe?
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 09:04 PM
Response to Original message
1. Should be civil, subject to a number of credit-oriented laws

however, if the debt was incurred through fraudulent means (lying, etc.) it could become criminal.

Legal sites and books (such as Nolo Press) are probably better sources than DU
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Hepburn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. It is civil unless... have somehow perpetrated a fraud to gain the credit. And unless it is an unusually large amount at stake, or a bankruptcy proceeding, this rarely comes up. However, if you are in doubt, I would suggest you speak to an attorney about any questionable credit applications, etc. Usually bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations and this might be a good place to start. Not suggesting that you file for bankruptcy because I do not have the facts - but it would be a good place to get answers to some questions. And...don't panic. If you just got in over your head and had no bad intent to get things for which you would and could never pay - you probably do not have a problem with any type of criminal charges and/or proceedings. There is no such thing as "debtor's prison."

Good luck and hope things get better for you. So sorry you are having a bad time.
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 09:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Thank you nt
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lastknowngood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 09:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. The repugs are pushing laws in congress and on the local level
to restart debtors prisons. Keep your eyes open.
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Right, what I'm wondering about
Effing punitive bastards, makes a lot of sense in you're trying to get money out of someone to put them in jail.
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kalian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
14. We're almost there actually....
and its ironic really, since many repukes are BIG into debt.
Starting with the idiot-in-chief.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
6. Unless Fraud can be shown
Edited on Fri Jun-04-04 11:41 PM by happyslug
Consumer debt is strictly Civil. Criminal Fraud is hard to prove, you NOT only have to prove that someone owes the money but he (or she) NEVER ever intended to re-pay the debt.

For Civil actions all a creditor has to prove is someone owes them money. The issue of intentions to re-pay is NOT required (This differates Criminal from Civil Actions).

Thus the overwhelming cases are only Civil in Nature (And even most Criminal Fraud cases generally are only handled Civilly).

One warning DO NOT WRITE CHECKS WITHOUT FUNDS to pay such debts. Writing bad checks is a Criminal Offense that Debt Collectors often tell people to do. Debt Collectors do this to put debtors in violation of Criminal Law so to put more pressure on the debtor to pay the debt.

Below is a paper I did on Debt Collection, the State terms cover Pennsylvania law, but most states have similar courts and or procedures. The Federal Law covers everyone in the US. Bankruptcy law is Federal.

Please note Pennsylvania is one of two states that does NOT permit attachment of wages (The other is Texas, through I have NOT checked this out in a number of years and may have changed). The paper reflect that fact for in Pennsylvania the only way to collect on a debt is to have a sale of a persons property.

Also note Pennsylvannia has one of the LOWEST level of exemption from Execution sales, most states have much higher exemption from executin sale.

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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 11:30 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Here is a paper I did on debt collection (Pa law):

Debt Collection is done either "Pre-Judgment" or "Post-Judgment". A Judgment is a judicial finding that a Debtor owes money to a Creditor. A judgment is only entered by a Judge or District Justice (Called a Justice of the Peace in other states) upon a filing of a lawsuit claiming that a Debtor owes money to a Creditor. Attachment of wages, bank accounts and Sheriff Sales of Property can only be done "Post-Judgment".


Pre-Judgment debt collection is an attempt to collect on a debt without having to go through legal process (i.e. without having to sue you in court). Pre-Judgment debt collection activity is occurs when a debtor fails to pay on a debt. Such a Debtor has three choices:

(1) First the debtor can pay on the debt.

(2) If the debtor can not pay than the debtor can try to make a payment arrangements with these creditors, (Something creditors will do, but most often when it is to the benefit of the CREDITOR not the Debtor).

(3) The third option that can be done is NOT to pay the creditor and tell them you do not want to hear from them except by legal service (i.e. the when the creditor sues you for the money).

Unless a debtor can pay the debt the best option for debtors is not to pay the creditors. If a debtor selects the option of not paying the creditor, the creditor can sue the debtor in a court of law and get a judgment against the debtor. (See the following pages for details).

Now the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and similar state acts covers HOW debt collectors are to act when trying to collect a debt. Under these acts many collection activity are prohibited and WHAT a debt collector can do are restricted. The most important two restriction are the following:

1. The Debt Collector can only contact a Debtor once a week, and

2. The Debt Collector must stop contacting if the Debtor inform the Debt Collectors, in writing, that the Debtor does not want to hear from them except by legal service (i.e the Creditor is suing the Debtor).

I always advise my clients to keep a log of how often Creditors call my clients and WHAT they say to my clients. Often the Debt Collectors commit violations of the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act" (FDCPA) (and similar state acts), but the only way to catch them is to keep a log. Please note that the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act" (FDCPA) permit the Debtor to collect for violations of the act by a Collection Agency. My experience has been that most Collections Agencies resort to the illegal tactics because they have no intention to sue and thus not worried about any counterclaims under the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act" (FDCPA). Among the prohibited activities are the use of any "harnessing, unfair or deceptive collection practice". Other violations are also possible but that will have to be addressed based on the facts if and when you are sued. Please note the FDCPA only applies to Debt Collectors, not to the person you owe money to.

If you believe you have been treated unfairly by the debt collector you can call the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Affairs at (814) 949-7900 in Ebensburg Pennsylvania;
or the Hotline at 1-800-441-2555, and file a complaint.


A Judgment is a judicial finding that a Defendant owes someone (Called a Plaintiff) money. A Judgment can be only entered after a Pleading (called a "Complaint") is filed in either District Justice Courts, Common Pleas Court or Federal District Court. If a person dispute a debt, the best time to dispute the debt is in front of a Judge, Board of Arbitrators or District Justice. Except in District Justice Court a Defendant must respond in writing (Called an "Answer"). If you wish to defend contact an attorney whenever you receive a copy any Complaint.

District Justice Courts

In District Justice Practice a Complaint is filed by a Creditor and a hearing date is set. If the Defendant wants to contest the debt all a Defendant has to do is appear at the set time for the hearing. District Justice court are viewed as not giving "Due Process" for District Justice Courts do not provide an opportunity to supply a written answer (and no jury). For this reason there is an absolute right to appeal any decision of a District Justice. The appeal is to Common Pleas Court and must be filed within 30 days of the decision of the District Justice (10 days if possession of Rental property is in dispute). On how to Appeal please see an Attorney.

Filing In Common Pleas Court and Arbitration

In Common Pleas Court, once a Complaint is filed the Defendant has 20 days to file a written "Answer" to the Complaint. Once the Pleadings are done, the case (if less than $20,000) is assigned to a Board of Arbitrators who set a hearing date and hears both sides. Like District Justice Court, if either side dislikes the decision of the Arbitrators they may appeal for a hearing in front of a Judge and/or Jury.

Common Pleas Court Hearing

If the action is for more than $20,000 (or an appealed is taken from a decision of a Board of Arbitrators) than a trial in front of a Judge and/or Jury is permitted under Pennsylvania Law. This is the final hearing on the merits of a case, any appeal to Superior Court or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be on legal technicalities only.

Defenses against Entry Of Judgment.

Now in addition to any defense based on not owning the money, the law permits other types of defenses based on legal technicalities. The following are partial list of such technicalities:

1. Statute of Limitations

If a Creditor waits more than four years from the last time you made any payments before he sues you, the lawsuit may be dismissed under the statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania (and the Uniform Commercial Code in general) the Statute of Limitation is four years from the last time you made any payments.

Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Please note your rights under the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act"(FDCPA)(15 U.S.C.A. 1692 to 1692o.), mention on page one of this paper are also enforced at this stage of any litigation.

Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Acts (Title 69 & 73)

Pennsylvania has several consumer protection laws, including the following, in any lawsuit you should discuss these with a attorney:

1. Pennsylvanian "Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law", (73 P.S. 201-1 et seq).

2. The "Plain Language Consumer Contract Act" 73 P.S. 2201 et seq.

3. E-Commerce is governed by the "Electronic Transaction Act", 73 P.S. 2260.101 et seq.

4. The "Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act" (MVSFA) (69 P.S. 601 et seq.), also has requirements that a creditor must perform before he can collect from a client who automobile has been repossessed. Please note the MVSFA does permit re-possession of an automobile even if you are one day late in payments.

Federal Consumer Protection laws

They are other Federal Consumer Protections laws that you should discuss with an attorney before you leave a Complaint go to Judgment, these include the following:

1. Consumer Leasing Act, 15 U.S.C. 1667 et seq,

2. Consumer Credit Cost Disclosure, 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.

3. "Unfair and Deceptive Practice Act" (UDAP), 12 U.S.C. 45 et seq.

4. Regulation "Z" of the Federal Reserve System, 12 C.F.R. 226 et seq.

Post-Judgment Debt Collection.

Once a Judgment is entered against a person, that Judgment is a lien on that persons Real and Personal Property. Once a Judgment is entered the Plaintiff can ask for an "Execution Sale" of the Debtors Personal Property (We will not discuss the sale of Real Property in this Paper). Furthermore the Plaintiff can ask the Sheriff to "Attach" any bank accounts or other money asset of the debtor.

As a rule Pennsylvania exempts the following from Execution Sale:

1. Personal Clothing.
2. Wages.
3. A Bible
4. $300 in other personal property. ($600 for a couple if BOTH of them owes the debt.)
5. Pension funds.

In addition the following are exempt under Federal Law:

1. Social Security and SSI Benefits
2. Veterans Benefits

One of the main advantages of the Federal Exemptions from the states Exemptions is that the Federal Exemptions survive conversion of the exempt asset into a bank account. For example if your Social Security has direct deposit (and no other money is deposited into that account) the money is still exempt from attachment by the Sheriff. On the other hand wages are exempt under the State exemption but as soon as the wages are deposited into a bank account, the Sheriff can attach the money.

For the above reason I always warn my clients who have judgments against them, never to deposit wages or any other money into a bank account.

Personal Property Sheriff (Execution) Sale

Pennsylvania also permits the sheriff to sell your personal property, but only if such property exceeds $300 in value. Such sales are called Sheriff Sales (The Official name is "Execution Sale" but I will use the popular name in this letter) Under Pennsylvania Law if you are subject to a Sheriff Sale of personal property the Sheriff can sell ALL of your personal property.

Under Pennsylvania law the only exemption from Sheriff sale are personal clothing, a bible and $300 in other personal property. You get to select the items that make up your $300 exemption but it is still limited to only $300. Please note that trailers, automobiles and pets are "Personal Property" and thus can be sold by the Sheriff in a personal property Sheriff Sale.

The Sheriff can only sell the assets of the Debtor, not the Property of the Spouse of the Debtor.

Once a judgment is entered a creditor can request an execution sale take place and than only to the property of the person who owns the debt. i.e. the Sheriff or Constable can not sell the property of a debtors spouses for the debt nor sell marital property for a debt of one spouse (they can sell marital property for the debt of BOTH spouses, but not just one spouse). The Sheriff or Constable can not sell property owned by any one else for the debt of the debtor.
Now the law assumes all property is owned in the same nature as the real property is held, i.e. if a debtor rent (or own) a house with the debtors spouse, all property on the property is assumed to be marital property.

If debtor rent (or own) a house alone all personal property in the house is assumed to be the debtors alone.

If a debtor lives with someone else (i.e with debtors parents, or with any other person where debtor is not a tenant) the law assume all personal property on the real property is the same as the real property, i.e. the parents (or the person who has title to the real property).

Now the above is an assumption which can be overcome by evidence (including the testimony of the debtor). If a constable or sheriff deputy does tag property belonging to another person, that person must go to the District Justice that issued the judgment (if a constable is during the execution sale) or to the Sheriff (if a sheriff deputy is doing the sale) and file an objection to the levy on the grounds that the tagged property does not belong to the debtor. If the person filing the objection loses in front of the District Justice or Sheriff, that person can appeal the decision to Common Pleas Court. For this reason I always recommend if someone is subject to an execution sale they should call my office so we can open a file on the actual execution sale.

What I mean by the above is that the Sheriff can not sell the property of a debtors spouse nor any marital property. Marital property under Pennsylvania law is viewed as owned by both spouses with both spouses having an "Undividable Half Interest" in the marital property. "Undividable Half Interest" means that any marital property can not be sold for the debt of ONE spouse (It can be sold for the debt of BOTH spouses. If the SPOUSAL residence is in both spousess names it is marital property. Any vehicle own in BOTH names is also marital property. An argument can be made that a car in one spouse's name is still marital property if it was purchased during the marriage or in anticipation of the marriage. I always recommend to married couples to add each others names to their automobiles title.

Also under Pennsylvania law there is an presumption that any personal property on real property is held in the same title as the Real Property. (See the next paragraph for details on this presumption.) Please note this is a presumption, like all presumptions can be overcome by evidence (including your testimony that something is your separate property).

The above presumption is that any personal property on real property is held in the same name as the real property, thus if the real estate is in both spouses name, the personal property on the real property is presumed by law to be marital property. On the other hand if the real property is only in one person's name the personal property in that real property is presumed by law to be that person's property alone.


The above as to treatment of spousal debt has one exception, the "Spousal Necessities Doctrine". Under Pennsylvania law a spouse (For ease of understanding hereafter referred to a "Husband" but may be a wife) may be held liable for the debts of a dependent spouse (Hereafter referred to as "Wife" but may be a Husband) only if the husband co-sign for the debt or the debt is a "Necessity". Now if the husband co-sign for the debt he is jointly liable for the debt but if the husband did not sign for the debt he is liable only if

a. the creditor looked to the husband to pay for the debt when the wife incurred the debt and

b. the debt is for a "Necessity".

c. the burden of proof on both elements above is on the CREDITOR.

Now what is a "Necessity"? A "Necessity" is something a husband would be expected to pay for his wife, i.e. Clothing, food, etc., but not something a husband would not be expected to buy for his wife. In most cases if a creditor looked to the wife for payment they can not claim it is a "Necessity".

The "Spousal Necessities Doctrine" is a very old doctrine but still used in Pennsylvania. In my opinion, luxury goods, gifts, etc are not necessities but in any particular case it is question of fact up to a District Justice, Judge or Jury to decide. I warn my clients of this doctrine but also tell them I have only had one case in ten years involving the doctrine and that case was never resolved. Very rarely used in litigation but you never know when it will appear.


The Federal exemption under Federal Bankruptcy Laws are much more generous than the State Exemption from Execution Sale. For Example:

1. You can retain $16,150 equity in your home

2. You can have up to $2575 equity in one automobile

3. $425.00 in any one piece of personal property primarily used for household use. Total not to exceed $8,625

4. $1075.00 In Jewelry

5. $850.00 plus up to $8,075.00 of the amount set aside for real property exemption and not used as part of the real property exemption.

6 $1,625.00 in tools of ones trade.

7. Im-matured life insurance policies

8 Other items

The down size of Bankruptcy are the following:

1. Cost is $209.00
2. Can only file once every seven years
3. Extensive paperwork involved YOU MUST LIST EVERY DEBT AND ASSET YOU KNOW OF.

Please note the following can NOT be discharged in Bankruptcy:

1. Debts do to any criminal activity

2. Debts do to a Auto Accident involving alcohol or drugs

3. Debts secured by other property, i.e mortgage or Auto Loan, but only to the value of the item securing the loan. These debts are often referred to as "Secured Debts".

4. Municipal utility bill, these are viewed as a lien on the real property being served.

5. Other miscellaneous debts.

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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 12:20 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Here is the Rhode Island Stature on Civil Arrest:
Edited on Sat Jun-05-04 12:57 AM by happyslug
Looks like Rhode Island has CIVIL ARREST for debt (Something Pennsylvania abolished by Statute in 1820). 10 Rhode Island Statutes 10-10-1. Please note by statute this is at the discretion of the Judge handling the civil case. You will need to see a lawyer on this for I question its Constitutionality but Civil Arrest for Debt is still on the Books in Rhode Island.

Please also note that Civil Arrest is addressed under The RHODE ISLAND SUPERIOR COURT RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, Civil Arrest is still permitted: See Rule 4. Process, attachment, trustee process, arrest paragraph (n):

For the complete list of Rhode Island Statures see:

Please note in such codification of the Statutes passed by the State Legislature, the State legislature often do not remove Unconstitutional sections even after such laws have been declared to be unconstitutional. For Example Pennsylvania Education law still set forth the requirement that all teachers MUST lead their students in daily prays at the start of each school day. It has NOT been enforced since the mid-1950s (When such public school prays were Ruled to be Unconstitutional) but it is still in the statute books. Another example is the West Virginia State Constitutions provision that all schools be segregated by race. Still in the State Constitution but not enforced since 1964.

My point here is that mere fact something is in the statute books does not mean it is Valid Law. See a lawyer who practices in Rhode Island to get the true status of Civil Arrest in Rhode Island.

The real issue will be, does the creditor want to pay the Sheriff $210 a week to keep you in Jail? (Fee required to be paid BEFORE you can be arrested) See

One other ground for a consitutional attack is that Females are exempt form such Civil Arrest:
(Prohibits Civil Arrest of "Females" for Contract debt, Credit Card Debt is a product of Contract and therefore a Contract Debt).

On top of this there is a Procedure for a poor person (Who has less than $10 in Assets NOT Exempt under the law) to take an oath and get out of the Civil Arrest:

As to the Exemptions themselves looks like Rhode Island give NO exemption from Wage attachment i.e. you are stuck with the Federal limit of 25% of your pay (unless your pay is less than $150 per week. By Federal Law in addition to the 25% limitation the Debtor must be left EACH WEEK with AT LEAST 30 times the hourly minimum wage. i.e. 5.15 x30 or $130.45 per week). :

Please remember also the FEDERAL EXEMPTION under BANKRUTCY applies if a person declares Bankruptcy. i.e. if you are arressted (Which I Doubt but see a local Lawer to be sure) declaring bankruptcy while retaining assets protected under Bankruptcy law would mean you would have to be left out of jail (and another reason someone will NOT do a Civil Arrest, why force you into Bankruptcy).

I bring up Civil Arrest for it is on the books, but once you understand the limitation (Including the $210 per week payment the Creditor has to pay) I do NOT see such an arrest occuring. If it does occur allyou have to do is decalre Bankruptcy and you be out (an the Creiditor will be out he $210 he paid the Sheriff).

A local Lawyer will give you How such Civil Arrests are handled in Rhode Island better than anyone else. I suspect almost NO ONE has had such an arrest done in decades (Unless he had a LOT OF ASSETS).

See a lawyer, if you are low income see your Local Legal Aid Assocation for advice:

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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 12:51 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Wow, gotta love DU
Thank You thank you, thank you! :hi:

You are so kind to take the time to post your paper and RI code.
People here amaze me sometimes.

I wonder if I could ask one further detail? I'm now working in RI but actually have current residency in MA. Could you point me in the right link direction to have a look at MA. civil code?

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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. I would recommend you see a lawyer
Edited on Sat Jun-05-04 01:33 AM by happyslug
Below is the General Law of MASSACHUSETTS: /

MASSACHUSETTS law on Civil Arrest (Permitted only if the Debtor plans to leave the state and other means of collecting on the debt is NOT possible):

Since the statute clearly governs someone who leaves the state (and you say you do so daily) the above statute may apply. Again I recommend you see a lawyer for a Massachusetts or Rhode Island lawyer will know much better than I do HOW this stature works. I suspect it is retained for high income debtors NOT low Income Debtors but see a local lawyer to be sure.

Exemption from Attachments in Massachusetts:

These are better than Pa (Which excludes only $300 in Assets), but I liked the exemption for "Fourth, Two cows, twelve sheep, two swine and four tons of hay."

This is Typical of such Exemption statutes, old laws passed Centuries ago, but added to since than (For Example "Sixteenth, An automobile necessary for personal transportation or to secure or maintain employment, not exceeding seven hundred dollars in value.")
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 01:27 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Owe you one!
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-06-04 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Do Not send me your "Two cows, twelve sheep....
Edited on Sun Jun-06-04 11:14 PM by happyslug
two swine and four tons of hay." as the payment of the debt. They will not fit into my Apartment and my landlord may get upset.

Seriously, If you look at the exemption list, you can see when some of of the exemptions were adopted. For Example "Tenth, The uniform of an officer or soldier in the militia and the arms and accoutrements required by law to be kept by him." This probably adopted after the Passage of the Militia Act of 1792 (A Law passed by the FEDERAL CONGRESS). Under the Militia Act of 1792 each state had to pass a law exempting militia arms and accoutrements from Attachment. At the time (1792) Congress did not act like it had the authority to pass the exemption itself, but passed a law requiring all the states to adopt such an act (The Militia Act of 1792 was repealed in 1901).

Given the inclusion of the Militia exemption be can assume that at least the first ten exemptions have existed since 1792 (With modification for example increasing the amounts listed in the first ten exemptions and adding things like "Hot Water and Light" as these things became to be viewed as necessities.

The Twelfth exemption (the "One sewing machine") was probably added in the post-Civil War era. The first practical sewing machine was not invented till the 1850s, but caught on quickly. Given that sewing was one of the few respectable occupations of the late 1800s that women could do (and paid better than most of the "non-respectable professions) the Sewing Machine exemptions was adopted to help such poor woman maintain some ability to earn a living (Remember I am talking about the era 1860-1960. After 1960 Woman started to enter the general work force and sewing machines are no longer regarded as a woman's protection against poverty (Foreign imports of Clothing also started to cut out the savings one could achieve by Sewing).

The First Co-op (i.e. co-operative association) was founded in the 1850s in Britain. Co-ops have expanded since that time and often are a good deal for people to belong to (Started in Rural Areas after the 1860s but have expanded to other sectors of the Economy but tend to be more rural in nature even today). Thus the exemption for Co-ops probably was added after 1865 but before the Great Depression. Protection of the "homestead" was a Rural Movement of the late 1800s, thus the "Homestead exemption" was adopted about the same time period as the Co-op exemption.

The time period 1865-1940 seems also to cover things like the lease of a home. The Great Depression was when most exemption from wage attachment were adopted as were the exemption for an Automobile as it became clear one needed a Car to get to and from work.

Thus the first 11 exemption were probably adopted in the 1790s, the 12th, 13th and 14th exemption in the 1880s and the 15th and 16th adopted in the 1930s (With the cash value mentioned in each changed at the time of each new addition and again in the 1970s or 1980s do to inflation).
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Under Federal Law
In Any CONSUMER DEBT case, Any Action Against you must be brought in the county you live in (Federal Debt Collection Act). Thus the action should be brought in the County you LIVE IN NOT Rhode Island.
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Th1onein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-04 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
8. As a former debt collector, I can tell you........
Personal debt is ALWAYS a CIVIL matter, unless there was fraud involved in incurring it (such as lying about your income on a credit card application). Even if the latter is true, though, no one usually ever prosecutes, because it is so hard to prove.

If anyone suggests (such as a bill collector) to you that there could be criminal penalties, they are breaking the law, both federal and most state laws--Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Record them and turn them in to the attorney general of your state.
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Robert Oak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-07-04 01:01 AM
Response to Reply #8
16. Get the Nolo self-help law books
The one on bankruptcy is very good and can address all.

But the previous post is right, those credit card companies over and over are trying to get it so one cannot declare bankruptcy, ch. 7
on credit card debt.

They charge loan sharks rates, harass people at nauseum and are trying to make sure people under diress cannot get out of the debt.
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