What to do if You Have Been Charged with Bankruptcy Fraud
When a person declares bankruptcy, he or she is required to submit correct and honest information regarding all assets and debts. Failing to do this can lead to a charge of bankruptcy, which is a federal offense and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, so if you or a loved one filed for bankruptcy and were subsequently charged with bankruptcy fraud, it is critical to retain an experienced south Florida federal crime attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.
Types of Bankruptcy Fraud
Filing for bankruptcy requires a debtor to fill out a number of forms describing all of his or her assets, including real estate, vehicles, personal possessions, and bank account funds. Incorrectly filling out this paperwork could result in felony charges. Other actions that could result in a charge of bankruptcy fraud include:
- Providing an incomplete list of assets;
- Destroying financial documents;
- Failing to disclose a debt;
- Falsifying documents;
- Hiding assets; and
- Making false statements.
Of these actions, concealing assets is the most common allegation made by prosecutors and could include any of the following:
- Charging debt to credit cards despite having the intention of filing for bankruptcy;
- Hiding assets from a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee;
- Filing for bankruptcy in multiple locations;
- Improperly transferring assets; and
- Making false statements during bankruptcy hearings.
Concealing assets does not necessarily require a debtor to physically hide the property. For example, deliberately preventing the discovery of an asset or purposefully withholding knowledge of its existence both qualify as concealment of assets for the purposes of bankruptcy fraud. Concealment can also occur through the transfer of title to another person in an effort to avoid its loss.
Penalties and Defenses
To convict a person of committing bankruptcy fraud, a prosecutor must establish that he or she had the intent to conceal assets or defraud the government. This can be very difficult to prove and is often the best defense for someone who has been charged with bankruptcy fraud. Presenting a strong defense is important in these types of cases, which can result in serious punishments. For example, aside from ordering hefty fines and a prison sentence, a court may also deny a defendant the ability to discharge his or her debt through bankruptcy. This means that creditors can sue the defendant or foreclose on his or her property after the trial.
How a Dedicated South Florida Federal Crime Lawyer Can Help
Bankruptcy fraud can wreak havoc on a person’s life, well-being, and finances. This offense is zealously prosecuted, which unfortunately means that many innocent people are prosecuted for unknowingly committing bankruptcy fraud, so if you live in south Florida and are being investigated for concealing assets, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 and a member of our legal team will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced federal crime attorney who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.