Good News! You cannot be imprisoned in California for owing debts! It’s in the California Constitution!

Check out my blog update on this subject here .

I was looking at the articles of the constitution of California today to see if they have a free speech code.  Los Angeles is about to pass a speech limitation ordinance that should be struck down if there is such a code in the state constitution and there is such a free speech provision.  While I was reading the articles of the California constitution I noticed something else.  In Article 1 Section 10 it states that “A person may not be imprisoned in a civil action for debt or tort, …”.

This clause appears to be one that would outlaw the practice of imprisoning debtors for debts to creditors that is happening in other states.  The Wall Street Journal and other publications have written articles detailing how in some states in the mid-west judges are actually imprisoning debtors for owing money to creditors even though such practice has been outlawed since the 1800s, 140 years ago.  Nobody is sure how this debtor’s prison has returned after so much time but possibly it reflects the power and influence of these creditors that we attorneys have been warning people about for some time.

In some cases defendants were arrested at their homes, handcuffed in front of their families, and taken off to a night spent in a lonely, damp, cold jail.  Some were not told until the next morning why they were arrested and most had long forgotten about the private monetary debt that had put them there in that jail.  Each was extremely disturbed and shaken by the experience and each was taking some time to recover.

Imagine the indignity and horror to live a law abiding life and then to suddenly find oneself in jail shivering when the laws that put you there were banned over 100 years ago.  It really boggles the mind that this is happening but it is in some states.  You can read my other blogs about debtors prison here: ,  and here: .

I was happy therefore to read this section in the California constitution that bans such a practice.  If the creditors ever try to imprison someone here for owing money to a creditor then an attorney can use this provision to get the victim out of jail.  I have never heard of people being jailed for monetary debts in this state but that does not mean that it won’t happen in the future and i is possible that it has happened and the facts have not been widely circulated.

Whatever the case it seems that Californians are protected form debtor’s prison by their constitution.  If you have debts you cannot pay though don’t take the chance of having a lawsuit filed against you and the creditors taking you income or property away from you.  Contact a good bankruptcy or debt attorney t see what you options are to deal with that debt so that it won’t continue to create problems for you.

I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego.  Please visit my website at or  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis!  For a free e-book: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” please send a request by e-mail to:

2 Responses to Good News! You cannot be imprisoned in California for owing debts! It’s in the California Constitution!

  1. Derek Bloom says:

    Well, if there was ever a reason to not consider leaving California due to the economy and the high price it costs to live here, this would be it. Thank God for this news and God bless you Farquhar Law Offices for getting this message out.

    • farquharlaw says:

      Just be aware though that people are being thrown in jail for “contempt of court”. If you wilfully violate a lawful court order that you had notice of then contempt proceedings can be brought against you and if your found guilty then you could be jailed.
      In California I have only heard of this for failure to pay child support there may be other instances of this out there. Being jailed for failure to follow a court order to pay a debt is in my opinion the same as being jailed directly for failure to pay a debt. It is still operates as debtors prison.

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