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While it is not commonly used, an 1854 Washington statute allows for the arrest of those who have violated a contract.

Can You Go to Jail for Contract Breach?

Is it possible to go to prison for violation of contract? Unlikely. While an 1854 Washington legislation allows for the arrest of those who have violated a contract, it is more typical for the party submitting the complaint to seek relief, implying that the party who breached the contract would stop and desist from inflicting further damage.

In legal terms, violation of contract is not considered a crime or even a tort. Furthermore, most jurisdictions do not allow punitive damages under contract law where there is a violation of contract. The only solution is to make the non-breaching party whole. Punitive damages are uncommon in jurisdictions that allow for them, and they must be used against exploitative criminals. Furthermore, punitive penalties are not assured even if the breach was committed with intentional and financially harmful intent.

RCW 7.44, Washington’s Ne Exaet Statute

When the Washington legislation is used, it is not for the arrest and bail of a defendant. Instead, it is a method of preventing the defendant from fleeing. “That he not go,” Ne exeat implies. To use the Act, the plaintiff must first obtain a writ. The writ, together with an affidavit, must demonstrate:

The defendant is reported to be planning to leave the state soon without finishing or making other preparations to fulfil the contract conditions.

It is thought that the defendant intends to seize property in order to swindle the plaintiff.

The legislation was not drafted with the intention of arresting the defendant in mind. Instead, it is used by a sheriff to get a bond to ensure that the offender will appear in court at a later date. If the defendant fails to appear or cooperate, they will be arrested.

While this legislation exists, there is just one divorce case on record in 1908 that employed an exeat writ. It is addressed in relation to marital assets and child support in combination with the Washington Family and Community Property Law. However, other more typical legal measures, such as restraining orders, prejudgment attachment, and preliminary injunctions, are employed instead. While there may be a desire to have the offender jailed in the instance of a violation, there are alternative, more appropriate legal steps to take.

Sections 3300 – 3322 of the California Civil Code

In California, sections 3300 – 3322 of the California Civil Code expressly outline a variety of damages when a breach of contract occurs. Some of the portions are as follows:

Section 3000 – If a contract is breached, the compensation will be equal to the approximate amount of losses sustained, unless otherwise specified by the civil code.

Section 3302 – Damages cannot be awarded unless the violation is clearly specified in terms of loss.

Section 3303 – When a contract specifies a responsibility to pay for a breach, that sum is what must be paid.

Section 3304 – If a violation of contract results in a loss of peaceful enjoyment, the damages are a percentage of the property worth.

Section 3306 – If a real estate contract is violated, damages include the costs of drafting documents, title inspection, the difference between the price paid and the agreed-upon price, and the value of the state at the time of the violation.

Section 3315 – If a carrier fails to receive freight, messages, or passengers, charges for transportation and the cost to provide the same service may be anticipated.

Section 3317 – If a delivery is delayed, the value of the freight’s estimated depreciation and any depreciation in expected value must be paid.

Section 3320a – Any public works contract for improvement signed on or after January 1, 1996, must be paid within 30 days of receipt of a documented receipt for payment. A final notification will be issued after 45 days.

Section 3320b – If payment is withheld unfairly, a penalty of 1.5 percent of the withheld amount is imposed. If legal action is taken as a result of nonpayment, the party at fault must pay the attorney’s expenses.