Writ of attachment refers to court approved seizures of defendant property early in a case to ensure the plaintiff can receive adequate damages. In order to receive a writ of attachment, a plaintiff must meet certain requirements, and the court must ensure that the due process protections of the defendant are protected. If the requirements are met, the court will order a writ of attachment that allows a sheriff or marshal to seize property or place a lien on property until the end of the case. If the plaintiff wins, the property will be used to pay damages to the plaintiff. Often, plaintiffs will be required to post a bond in case the plaintiff loses and the defendant becomes harmed by the writ of attachment.
Both federal and state governments allow writs of attachment in different circumstances, and they generally require that the claim against the defendant be on a contract, for a specific amount of money, not a fully secured debt, and be a commercial debt. Also, a plaintiff typically must show that the plaintiff likely will win the case and a special need exists to ensure damages can be paid. Due process typically requires a court hearing with notice given to the defendant. However, in some circumstances, a court may issue a writ of attachment without notice if the plaintiff can prove with a high level of certainty that they will win the case and that they could not be effectively compensated for damages without the writ.
[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]