To assess; raise; execute; exact; tax; collect; gather; take up; seize. Thus, to levy a tax; to levy a NUISANCE; to levy a fine; to levy war; to levy an execution, i.e., to levy or collect a sum of money on an execution.
A seizure. The obtaining of money by legal process through seizure and sale of property; the raising of the money for which an execution has been issued.
A sheriff or other officer of the law can be ordered by a court to make a levy against any property not entitled to an exemption. The court can do this with an order of attachment, by which the court takes custody of the property during pending litigation, or by execution, the process used to enforce a judgment. The order directs the sheriff to take and safely keep all non-exempt property of the defendant found within the county or as much property as is necessary to satisfy the plaintiff's demand plus costs and expenses. The order also directs the sheriff to make a written statement of efforts and to return it to the clerk of the court where the action is pending. This report, called a return, lists all the property seized and the date of seizure.
The sheriff's act in taking custody of the defendant's property is the levy. A levy on real property is generally accomplished by giving the defendant and the general public notice that the defendant's property has been encumbered by the court order. This can be done by filing a notice with the clerk who keeps real estate mortgages and deeds recorded with the county. A levy of tangible PERSONAL PROPERTY usually requires actual seizure. If the goods are capable of being moved around, most states insist that the sheriff actually take them into custody or remove them to another place for safekeeping with an independent person. If the property is bulky or cumbersome and removal would be impracticable and expensive, actual seizure is not necessary. The levy can be accomplished by removing an essential piece, such as the pinsetter in a bowling alley, or by services of the court demanding preservation of the property. The order can be served on the defendant or anyone else in possession of the property, and disobedience of it then can be punished as a CONTEMPT of court.
Often the order will permit levy against any property belonging to the defendant, but it will specify seizure of a unique item and allow something else of comparable value to be substituted only if the unusual item cannot be found.
An attempt to attach a debtor's property is effective only after a levy, and from that time on there is a lien on the attached property. This gives the plaintiff some security that he or she will be able to collect what is owed and, if first in time, establishes the plaintiff's priority at the head of the line of the defendant's creditors who might subsequently seek a levy upon a debtor's property. It can strengthen the plaintiff's bargaining position if the plaintiff is trying to settle the dispute with the defendant, and it may even create jurisdiction for the court over the defendant, but only to the extent of the value of the property subject to levy.