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Can I go to jail if I do not pay my debts?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy
Reviewed October 2019

No! There are no "debtors’ prisons" in the United States. Owing money is not a crime.

But, if you violate a court order you can go to jail. For example,

  • a judge can put you in jail if the judge ordered you to make child support payments and you do not make them.  
  • If you are summoned to court and you do not go, the judge can order that you go to jail.

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