Q:

What is a body attachment charge?

A:

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The Hempstead County Sheriff's office in Arkansas describes body attachments as being very similar to arrest warrants issued in criminal cases. Body attachments legally order law enforcement officers to physically "seize the body of the person named in the order." Persons taken into custody can remain there pending orders from the court.

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The Hempstead County Sheriff's office further notes that a majority of body attachments include language that states the person in custody is required to pay a specific cash fee in order to be released. For instance, someone delinquent on child support payments may be required to pay part or all of what is owed in order to get out of jail. In some cases, the person must sit in jail until the judge who issued the order makes a decision.

In an article for Time Magazine, Martha White relates that some creditors are exploiting the system to get judges to issue body attachment orders against people owing relatively small debts. White details how creditors win a judgment in court against debtors and request an "examination." This process allows debtors to be officially questioned in court. Should the debtor fail to appear in court, a body attachment order is used to forcibly imprison him until he pays bail, which is often the same amount sought by the creditor and is often turned over directly to the creditor.

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