A victim may obtain the assistance of a Judgment Collection Service or a Collections Attorney to pursue collections personally.
Finding Out What the Debtor Owns
If you do not know if the Judgment Debtor is employed or owns any property, you can request him/her to answer specially prepared interrogatories (questions) regarding his/her financial situation using Form Interrogatories – Crime Victim Restitution Form CR-200).
The Form Interrogatories are served upon the Judgment Debtor through the mail. Proof of Service (Form FL-3335) is required. The Debtor has 30 days to respond. If no response is received, you may wish to seek legal assistance in asking the court to issue a Compel To Answer.
Once you have determined what the Debtor’s assets are, you can proceed with collecting your judgment. The Small Claims Advisory Program is available to assist you in filling out the above forms.
Internet Search: The Internet offers an effective method for debtor discovery. Many counties have links that allow for public records search online. Online services are available, providing professional investigative services specializing in the discovery of assets and finding people throughout the United States. (Internet search: “Asset Discovery”)
Court Records: If the defendant was previously involved in a lawsuit, has gone through a divorce proceeding or was a party to a child support action, the court file could contain information about the defendant’s assets. Court files are public record and you may request to review the file from the records division of the Civil or Family Court.
If the Offender Is a Juvenile: The parent or guardian is presumed to be jointly and severally liable for the restitution owed. (Welfare & Institutions Code § 730.7) This liability is rebuttable and is subject to the limitations outlined in Civil Code §§ 1714.1 and 1714.3.
Recording Your Judgment
Take the certified copy of the CR-110 and a completed Document Cover Sheet (available at the Recorder’s Office and their website) along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office. Contact the recorder’s office for current fees. Once recorded, the CR-110 will be mailed to you. You may also record the CR-110 with other counties in California; however their procedures and fees may vary.
A lien is a legal claim against the defendant’s property. Recording the Order For Restitution and Abstract of Judgment (Form # CR-110/JV-790) with the County Recorder’s Office constitutes an automatic lien against any current or future real property the defendant may own. Obtaining a lien gives your judgment priority and allows you to get paid the amount of the restitution before the defendant can sell, refinance, or transfer real property. The CR-110/JV-790 should be recorded in any county in which the defendant may own real property.
For liens against the defendant’s business assets, it may be possible to file a statewide lien on personal property. To do so, contact the California Secretary of State for information on filing a judgment Lien (Form # JL-1) at (916) 653-3516. The form is also available on the Secretary of State’s website (see: California Business Portal/Uniform Commercial Code section)