£u are in debt. The good news is that you have very little chance of being sent to prison because of debt. Anyone who is in financial trouble can find help. So let me help you to relax.
Is it possible to go to jail for debt?
Put, no. Being in debt is not a crime.
This has not always been true. In Britain, debt became criminalized in the 18th and 19th centuries. People of all classes were jailed for not paying their creditors. Most of the imprisoned men were male, as they were considered responsible for a family’s finances. Sometimes, children and wives would also be imprisoned, especially if they couldn’t support themselves. For example, Charles Dickens’s father, John, spent several months in the Marshalsea Debtors Prison in 1824. He owed PS40 to a local baker. Charles was 12 years old when he had to work in a shoe polish factory to support his father and the other members of his family imprisoned.
Thankfully, the times have changed. Protections are in place now to assist those struggling with debt and not punish them.
Although they are technically going to prison for the debt, it is not when someone goes to prison “for debt.” Instead, it is usually because they commit fraud or didn’t follow a court order.
Is it common to go to jail for debt?
Who will rarely send someone to prison because of debt? If someone is in debt and their debt was a factor in the sentence, it won’t be an easy process. They didn’t default on their payments Monday night and then wake up in prison vans Friday morning. They may not have been able to resolve the problem or refused to pay.
People in debt will not end up in jail, even if they never repay the money. If a person can show that they are genuinely insolvent, they will not be convicted.
This doesn’t mean ordinary people without criminal backgrounds can’t fail.
Unpaid debts can result in prison sentences.
Even though it is technically impossible to go to prison “for debt,” it is easy to see how debt problems can spiral. People can also receive prison sentences even if they are not hardened criminals.
A woman from South Wales was sentenced in 2016 to 81 days imprisonment for failing to pay PS10 per week towards her debt. After spending 40 days in prison, she was released on bail. However, she was not allowed to be imprisoned by Mr. Justice Lewis, a High Court judge. He stated that “there was no evidence that the magistrates could conclude that there had not been culpable negligence in non-payment.”
In 2018, a grandmother with a chronic illness from Belfast was sentenced to prison for failing to pay a PS1,100 fine for not paying her TV license. Paul Maskey, Sinn Fein MP for Ireland, said that Who freed Anne Smith. It is a good thing that common sense prevailed, as Anne Smith should not have been sent to jail. However, it is the authorities’ responsibility to make sure that in exceptional circumstances, compassion prevails and that this does not happen again.
Around 100 people are sent to prison for arrears in council tax, and 30 are sent to jail for failing to pay the fines for not paying their TV license.
What debts are you allowed to go to jail for not paying?
To be taken to court for a specific debt, you must first have the case heard by a Magistrates Court. Technically, these debts can lead to imprisonment. For links to relevant factsheets, click on each debt.
Although it is rare for you to be sent to prison for any of the above, it is very unlikely that you would be sent to jail for not paying income tax or VAT. Tax Aid states that although HM Revenue and Customs prosecute some individuals every year, these cases involve serious dishonesty and tax evasion allegations. HMRC doesn’t take action just because someone hasn’t paid their taxes on time or has difficulty finding the funds to settle.
What debts aren’t going to lead you to prison?
These debts are not eligible for you to be sent to prison.
- Bank loans
- Credit cards
- Car financing
- Hire purchase
- Utility bills
- Parking tickets
- Payday loans
- Money owed to a company or individual.
A county court will deal with these debts, not a Magistrates Court.
But, the blog explains which debts you can be sent to jail for not paying. If you receive a County Court Judgement from the County Court, or a request to fill out an N56 form, you must attend court and return all relevant documents. Failure to do so could result in contempt of court, leading to imprisonment. She explained that if you receive either one of these forms, it is important to get immediate advice by calling National Debtline at 0808 808 4000.
StepChange has more information: “If you don’t have a County Court judgment (CCJ), a creditor may apply to take money out of your wages by attaching earnings.
Suppose you ignore the court’s letters about this; who may send a bailiff to you to bring you to court. You could face a fine or a 14-day sentence. A fine or sentence in prison is for not following the court’s instructions and not for the actual debt.
How to reduce your debts
Here are some options if you are concerned about your debts.
Keep in touch avec your creditors.
It can be difficult to speak with creditors, especially if they owe a lot of money. However, you can show your creditors that you care about the problem by staying in touch rather than ignoring them. Sometimes creditors will work with you to make it easier to repay the money. For example, you might need to change your payment dates or make repayment plans that spread the cost over a longer time. Sometimes, you might be able to reduce the amount that you owe, but this will depend on which creditor you are using and what type of debt you have.
Get expert advice
Know the difference between your priority and non-priority debts
Many people prioritize the lowest interest debt when deciding which debts they should pay first. In reality, it is best to pay attention to the debts that could have the worst consequences if not paid. For example, you could lose your home if you fail to pay your rent and mortgage. Failure to make your car payments can result in you being unable to go to work. Who could take the failure to make the payments on your fridge away? This could not only be annoying, but it can also cause additional problems by increasing your food bill. To learn more about priority debts and determine the best way to pay your debt, take a look at my guide.
Respect court orders
Even if you feel they are unfair, you must comply with court orders. You can seek specialist advice to help you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. Debt experts can help you find a solution if you cannot repay the debt.