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Writs of Attachment Against Non-California Residents

Updated on August 16, 2017

In one of our previous blog posts, Schorr Law dealt with using writ of attachments to enable judgment collections.  As a recap, the writ of attachment procedure is one tool that can be used pre-judgment to prevent a defendant from transferring his assets during a lawsuit.  In doing so, a Plaintiff can increase his chance of collecting upon judgment.

In addition to asset protection, the writ of attachment procedure can also be used to obtain jurisdiction over nonresident debtors who are not subject to California personal jurisdiction by seizing their property within California.  (See Code Civ. Proc. § 492.050; Nakasone v. Randall (1982) 129 Cal.App.3d 757, 760.)  This type of jurisdiction is called “quasi in rem” jurisdiction.

For attachment purposes, a “nonresident” is a natural person who does not reside in California, a corporation not qualified to do business in California, or a foreign partnership that has not designated an agent for service of process in California.

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All property of nonresidents within California is subject to attachment in any action for recovery of money.  Therefore, unlike a resident attachment, which requires a commercial money claim, a nonresident attachment can be based on any type of money claim – contract or otherwise.  (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 492.010, 492.040.)  Moreover, exemptions for individual defendants under regular writ of attachment procedures do not apply until the defendant makes a general appearance in the action.

However, once an individual defendant who makes a general appearance in the action, he becomes subject to California personal jurisdiction and quasi in rem jurisdiction is no longer necessary.  This is because the main purpose of nonresident attachment is to obtain jurisdiction.  At this point, plaintiff must show that his or her right to attach is authorized under the ordinary procedures for residents.  Nonetheless, at least until a nonresident defendant makes an appearance, a nonresident attachment can be a useful tool to temporarily freeze a defendant’s assets and also to obtain personal jurisdiction.

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For help with obtaining a writ of attachment against a resident or nonresident and to inquire about a free consultation, contact us at (310) 954-1877, or by using the Contact Form.