Sheriff's Sale Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Sheriff's Sale, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Sheriff's Sale?

(n) Sheriff’s sale is the sale of a property or article seized or held by a sheriff as per the order of execution issued by a court, by way of a public auction or with a public notice

History and Definition of Sheriff's Sale

Sheriff's sale is a legal process in which a court-ordered sale of a property or item is conducted by a sheriff. Typically, this occurs after a judgement has been entered against a debtor, and the property is seized to pay off the outstanding debt. The seizure can be done by way of a writ of execution, which authorizes the sheriff to take possession of the property and sell it at a public auction. The proceeds from the sale are then used to pay off the debt.

Sheriff's sales have been a part of the legal system for centuries, in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Originally, they were used to sell off lands that were in dispute or were unpaid debts. In the modern era, sheriff's sales are most often used to enforce court judgements against individuals who have failed to pay their debts, particularly in the case of foreclosures or bankruptcies.

Examples of Sheriff's Sale

  1. John was unable to pay his mortgage for several months, and as a result, the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. After no buyers came forward during the foreclosure auction, the bank requested a writ of execution and the property was sold at a sheriff's sale to the highest bidder.
  2. Ellen was sued by a creditor for failing to pay a debt. The court entered judgement against her and ordered that her car be seized and sold at a sheriff's sale to satisfy the judgement.
  3. Pete owed a substantial amount of back taxes to the government. After multiple attempts to collect the debt failed, the IRS obtained a writ of execution and sold his business premises at a sheriff's sale.

Legal Terms Similar to Sheriff's Sale

  1. Execution - This refers to the legal process by which a court order is enforced, often by seizing and selling property.
  2. Foreclosure - A court-ordered process by which a mortgaged property is sold to pay off the outstanding mortgage debt.
  3. Seizure - The act of taking possession of something, typically as part of a legal process.