Levy Handbook

Winning a case in court is only the beginning of the process for the collection of money that is owed to a plaintiff by the debtor. Unfortunately, in most cases, the debtor does not normally pay up once the plaintiff has won. Therefore, it is up to the plaintiff to pursue the legal avenues available to them.

First and foremost, the judgment the plaintiff obtained is good for 10 years from the date of judgment, renewable for another 10 years, if obtained in a General District Court, and for 20 years from the date of judgment, renewable for another 20 years, if obtained in a Circuit Court. This is the time in which the plaintiff can pursue the collection of the debt.

One often-used process is called the Writ of Fieri Facias. This is usually referred to as either a Writ of FiFa or Levy. This process authorizes the Sheriff to go to the debtor's residence and inventory and/or seize property for collection of the debt. The Writ of Fieri Facias is good for ninety (90) days from the date of issuance. This means the Sheriff has ninety (90) days in which to execute the process. It does not usually take ninety (90) days to execute, but some cases are more difficult than others and will take longer.

  • Anyone may bid at a Sheriff's sale, except employees and relatives of employees of any constitutional officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This includes the plaintiff and defendant.
  • The sale will take place where the property is stored. This could be a storage facility, the residence of the defendant, or on the courthouse steps. The location will be clearly advertised.
  • The terms of the sale will vary from sale to sale. Therefore, it is important the bidder listens carefully when the terms of the sale are announced. The following are some of the consistent terms:
  • Everything is sold "As Is". No warranties apply.
  • Everything is sold subject to any and all liens.
  • Everything is sold to the highest bidder for cash.
  • The property must be removed at the conclusion of the sale. Therefore, if moving arrangements need to be made, the bidder should give this some thought before bidding.
  • Any person who bids on the property but fails to pay at the conclusion of the sale is liable for any difference if the property re-sales for a lower amount at another auction.
  • All bids must be reasonable and the Deputy or Sheriff reserves the right to refuse a bid, which is considered unreasonable.
  • There are many reasons a Sheriff's sale may be canceled or postponed. Bidders would be wise to call our office at 540-389-0978 on the morning of the scheduled sale to inquire if it has been canceled.
  • There are many steps to the levy process. This is not a fast remedy for collecting debt. However, it certainly can be effective, and in some cases, swift. The key is to provide the Sheriff with as much information as possible about the defendant and call the office when you have questions. Please be reminded that the Sheriff cannot give legal advice but will guide a person through the policies and process.