Q: Can i be put in jail for a delinquent university account that has been sent to collections?
It's sent to collections
A: Failure to pay a debt is not a crime; it's a civil matter. If you're unable to come to an agreement, the typical remedies are a lawsuit, wage garnishment, garnishment of assets such as bank accounts. A debt collector who threatens someone with arrest for not paying a civil debt is breaking the law and may be liable for damages under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
That said, there is a way that unpaid civil debts can lead to arrest: ignoring a court order. For example, if a person is ordered to appear in court on a particular date or is ordered to provide income information to the court or to the plaintiff in a lawsuit by a certain date and fails or refuses to do so, that person can be held in contempt of court and possibly arrested. Thus, if a lawsuit is filed, it's important to get the help you need to ensure that you do what is required of you in a timely manner.
*David Levin is the Partner in charge of UpRight Law's consumer rights litigation department. UpRight Law is a national law firm with licensed attorneys providing bankruptcy and consumer legal services in all 50 states. He is licensed in Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia, as well as several United States District Courts. He has 22 years of litigation experience, the last 18 of which have been focused on consumer rights litigation. This response is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney licensed in your state with the appropriate expertise.
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