The carrying out of some act or course of conduct to its completion. In CRIMINAL LAW, the carrying out of a death sentence.
The process whereby an official, usually a sheriff, is directed by an appropriate judicial writ to seize and sell as much of a debtor's nonexempt property as is necessary to satisfy a court's monetary judgment.
With respect to contracts, the performance of all acts necessary to render a contract complete as an instrument, which conveys the concept that nothing remains to be done to make a complete and effective contract.
With regard to seizures of property, executions are authorized in any action or proceeding in which a monetary judgment is recoverable and in any other action or proceeding when authorized by statute. For example, the victim of a motor vehicle accident may institute a civil lawsuit seeking damages from another party. If the plaintiff wins the lawsuit and is awarded money from the defendant as a part of the verdict, the court may authorize an execution process to pay the debt to the plaintiff.
Ordinarily, execution is achieved through a legal device known as a writ of execution. The writ serves as proof of the property owed by the defendant, who is called the JUDGMENT DEBTOR, to the plaintiff, or JUDGMENT CREDITOR. The writ of execution commands an officer of the court, usually a sheriff, to take the property of the debtor to satisfy the debt. Ordinarily, a writ of execution cannot be issued until after an appropriate court issues a judgment or decree determining the rights and liabilities of the parties involved.
Any type of PERSONAL PROPERTY is subject to seizure under an execution, provided existing laws do not prescribe specific exemptions. Such property may include jewelry, money, and stocks. In most states, real property, including land, is also subject to execution. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, which includes PATENTS, copyrights, and TRADEMARKS, is generally immune to execution.
An execution on a judgment is typically issued by the clerk of the court in which the judgment was rendered. The clerk cannot issue an execution unless directed to do so by the judgment creditor or the judgment creditor's attorney. The time within which an execution must issue varies from one jurisdiction to another. The writ must be delivered to the sheriff or his or her deputy before it can properly be said that the writ has been issued.
The levy of the execution is the act by which the officer of the court appropriates the judgment debtor's property to satisfy the command of the writ. The levy must be made by an officer duly qualified to act under the terms of the writ. In most states, the judgment debtor has the right to select and indicate to the officer the property upon which the levy is to be made.
An execution creates a lien that gives the judgment creditor qualified control of the judgment debtor's property. In most jurisdictions, an execution lien binds all property, personal or real, that is subject to levy. It is sometimes called a general lien because it attaches to all the defendant's property.
After the sheriff has levied, it is her or his duty to sell the property seized. An execution sale is a sale of property by a sheriff as an officer acting under the writ of execution. An execution sale should be conducted so as to promote competition and obtain the best price. If necessary, the sheriff can employ an auctioneer as an agent to sell the property, in order to procure the most favorable price and to collect the proceeds.
Gridley, Doreen J. 1995. "The Immunity of Intangible Assets from a Writ of Execution." Indiana Law Review 28.