Option #1 - Do Nothing

Do this only if you have no defense at all; even if you think that you owe the plaintiff the entire amount sought, it does not hurt to make an offer to the other side. You may be able to get the judgment reduced or pay it in installments. But, if you do nothing, you will likely have to pay the entire amount claimed by the plaintiff.

If the other side requests an “Affidavit of Judgment” (see the Complaint form [2] – bottom section on the first page) and you do not answer or show up, the judge may decide in favor of the other side. The Court may not even require the plaintiff to come to the hearing. The Court may simply send you a notice with the amount of the judgment and the date the judgment was entered into official court records.

The other side still has to prove its case. So, it is possible that the judge will find that the plaintiff hasn’t done so. But don’t count on it.

What if I am collection proof?

If you have a low income and few assets, you may be “collection proof” (also called judgment proof). If you meet the criteria for being “collection proof” in Maryland, and a court enters a judgement against you, the plaintiff will not be able to collect the judgment. However, once your situation improves, the plaintiff can collect the judgment from you.

If you have a good case, you should present it to the court, even if you are collection proof.

TIP – If you have any defense at all, do not rely on the fact that you are collection proof to protect yourself. Although it may prevent the other side from pursuing you now, a judgment in Maryland lasts for 12 years. In addition, the other side can renew the judgment for another 12 years. At some point, you may have a job or other assets that might be subject to an earlier judgment. If you can get the amount reduced, now is the time to ask the court to do so. Read the Rule and Law: Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceeding, Section 5-102(a)(3) & Maryland Rule 3-625

How much will I have to pay?

The judge will decide on the exact amount.  Also, you may be charged for court costs or interest. By presenting a case and speaking with the judge at the hearing, you may be able to reduce the amount the judge orders you to pay.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2019.”