Bankruptcy Fraud

Bankruptcy Fraud Generally

Bankruptcy is meant to assist debtors who are having financial difficulties and have no ability to fulfill their debt obligations without assistance from the bankruptcy court.  The economy in recent years has lead to numerous bankruptcy filings.  Given the high amount of filers, it is not uncommon for the bankruptcy petitions to contain material mistakes.  However, such a material misrepresentations may cause an individual to be indicted under federal law.

Bankruptcy fraud is a white collar crime that usually takes one of the following forms: (1) the concealment of assets to avoid having to forfeit those assets; (2) the intentional filing of false or incomplete forms; (3) the filing of multiple claims in several states; and (4) the bribing of a court-appointed trustee.  The government can bring charges for these violations under 18 U.S.C. § 152.  Most allegations of bankruptcy fraud involve the concealment of assets.  Creditors can only liquidate assets listed by the debtor.  Therefore, a debtor may conceal his or her assets in order to keep them from being liquidated.

Possible Defenses

Possible defenses always depend on the particular circumstances in any given case.  This may range from arguments regarding intent to commit the crime, constitutional infringements, etc.  However, because bankruptcy fraud has a requirement of intent, it can be very difficult to prove.  The government has to show that the individual knowingly misrepresented and/or omitted a material fact.  This is one of the main defenses used in these types of cases because it can help an individual avoid conviction if the prosecution is unable to prove that the individual knowingly committed fraud.

Possible Penalties

Bankruptcy fraud is a federal offense, and if convicted, an individual could face up to five years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000, or both.  The severity of the penalties depends highly on the nature of the crime, amount of monetary loss, prior criminal history, and other charges in the indictment.

If an individual is convicted, in determining the appropriate sentence, the district court evaluates an individual’s presentence investigation report (“PSR”) along with the United States Sentencing Guidelines.  In this scenario, the U.S. probation officer conducts a presentence investigation of the defendant.  After the investigation is complete, the probation officer must submit the PSR to the court at least seven days before sentencing.  The PSR includes all relevant information regarding the underlying offense, prior criminal history, personal history such as medical and family history, and a recommendation of the appropriate Guideline’s range.  The federal judge will review the PSR in order to calculate a defendant’s Guideline’s range by considering the defendant’s offense level and criminal history with the Sentencing Table.  The offense guideline section applicable to bankruptcy fraud in particular is U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1.  The base offense level starts at 6, but may be increased based on the factors above.  The penalties increase as the offense level increases.

All of the elements involved in sentencing can be confusing and overly complex for someone who is not familiar with the federal system and the applicable statutes and Guidelines.  Our criminal defense lawyers at Russell Mace & Associates, P.A. are highly experienced in this area and can assist you with this process.  This is situation you should not go through alone and without guidance.  We ensure that all of our clients are kept fully informed about their case.

Bankruptcy Fraud Lawyer

Our bankruptcy fraud lawyers are prepared to offer you the most aggressive and thorough defense possible.  When our clients are charged with bankruptcy fraud, most say that it was an act of desperation.  They did not want to be left without any resources, assets, or financial stability.  Being convicted of bankruptcy fraud can only make the situation worse due to the court fees, fines, and restitution associated with the charge.  We are here to protect your rights, and to ensure that your financial future is protected.  If you are being investigated or have been charged with bankruptcy fraud, it is best to contact a fraud lawyer to determine your options.  Russell Mace & Associates, P.A. has attorneys licensed in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and New York if you need a federal attorney in one of these jurisdictions.  We frequently handle federal cases in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Miami, Miami Beach, Palm Beach, Valdosta, Augusta, and many more.  If you need a bankruptcy fraud lawyer, contact our firm for a free consultation.  You may also contact us online.