*This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

The court system often uses legal terms that the general public doesn’t always understand. Other times, it uses familiar terms in unfamiliar ways. In these circumstances, pop culture does the legal system no favors. Where terms like “arson,” “jail” and “guilt” frequently appear on crime shows, they have more complex definitions than those shows might suggest.

Such is the case for the term “liens.” While less commonly used in crime shows, this term frequently appears in a courtroom setting.

If you conduct a PeopleFinders criminal records check and you find the word “liens,” don’t make any assumptions about what the word may mean. You’ll need to take the context and definition into account to better understand the data with which you’ve been presented.

What is a Lien?

Liens are legal documents that award another party – be that a person or an institution – the right to property you own. One example of a lien includes a mortgage, wherein you’re paying off a bank to maintain your home.

Liens are neither positive nor negative. They can allow external parties to protect your property, should you not be able to take care of it. However, they can also damage your credit if not attended to. A lienholder, or the lender who initially allowed you to sign a lien, can also repossess the property you gave them the right to if you are unable to pay them back for their support.

Where Do Liens Come From?

Liens can arise due to action you take in collaboration with another person or institution, or they can come into existence at the will of a court.

What Are the Different Types of Liens?

There are several different types of liens, including:

  • Home Loans – One of the most common liens is a home lien. Home liens help you initially afford to purchase a home. Once fulfilled, you’ll be expected to pay back your lienholder or else see your home foreclosed and resold.
  • Auto Loans – Auto loans work similarly to home loans and liens. You can use a loan and lien to purchase a vehicle. Once that purchase has been completed, you’ll be expected to pay back your loan with the lien serving as collateral. Should you fail to make continuous payments, including interest, your lienholder can use the lien to repossess your vehicle.
  • Mechanics Liens – If you need to hire contractors or mechanics to work on your property (be it a car or a home), you can take out mechanic’s liens to pay for their services. Mechanic’s liens are most often controlled by the contractors themselves instead of a bank. However, the payment process will work the same. Should you fail to pay the contractors what you owe them, they’ll be able to take your lien into court and seize possession of your shared property or dues.
  • Judgment Liens – If you’ve been taken to court and lost a case, the person to whom you lost the case may allow you to pay dividends to them via loan and lien. These liens will help you pay legal fees whether or not you have the funds immediately available – however, they may cost you some of your property.
  • Tax Liens – Your state and local government can use a lien to collect your unpaid taxes.

How Do You Remove a Lien?

If you’re looking to disentangle yourself from a lien, you can take one of several different paths, including:

  • Pay It – If there is no way for you to contest a lien, it’s your responsibility to pay it off. Once you pay the debts, you’ll be able to remove your lien from your record. Alternatively, you can sell the property attached to your lien to see it immediately removed.
  • Settle It – If you don’t have enough money to pay off your lien, and you don’t want to sell the property you have attached to it, you can try to negotiate with the creditor who issued you the lien. Creditors who have been working with you for a long time may accept a lump sum as opposed to a stretched-out payment simply to move on from the lien.
  • Correct It – If you do not think the lien was legally bound to you, you’ll need to get in touch with the person or body that holds the lien to have it corrected. For example, if a creditor incorrectly attributes another person’s car loan to you after you’ve bought a used car, you’ll need to get in touch with the creditor to have the lien removed.
  • Dispute It – If the lienholder refuses to acknowledge that a lien may be illegitimate, you may have to take the holder to court.

What Does It Mean If A Lien Appears On A Criminal Records Report?

If a PeopleFinders criminal records report notes that your subject has a lien on file, this could mean a variety of things. At first glance, you’ll know your subject has shared property with another party, and that sharing has been accounted for by a legal authority. You’ll need to read more of the report to understand what property has been shared, who the other party is and how your subject has been impacted by their lien.