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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Stay Law

by David A. Norris, 2006

The Stay Law is a piece of legislation that gives debtors extra time to pay their creditors before their property is seized for payment. Several states passed such a law, beginning in the years of economic upheaval after the American Revolution and continuing through much of the nineteenth century. North Carolina passed a stay law as early as 1794, and it remained in effect for more than 20 years. This statute called for debtors to have extensions of from 20 days to 6 months to pay their debts after a judgment of a justice of the peace. A stay law in 1809 gave similar extensions for debt payment until 1 Apr. 1810.

To protect debtors racked by economic hard times caused by the War of 1812, the General Assembly passed another stay law on 16 Dec. 1812. That statute, also known as the "suspension act," was to remain in effect until 1 Feb. 1814, but it was overturned as unconstitutional by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the case of Jones v. Crittenden. A stay law of the early Reconstruction era was also struck down as unconstitutional in 1869.

Additional Resources:

Taylor, John Louis. "Jones v. Crittenden." North Carolina Reports Volume 4: Embracing Carolina Law Repository Vols. I and II January Term, 1811, to July Term, 1816, and North Carolina Term Reports July Term, 1816, to January Term, 1818, Inclusive. Raleigh, N.C.: Mitchell Printing Company. 1921. p.44-54.