Choose an Experienced and Aggressive Bankruptcy Fraud Defense Attorney
If you filed bankruptcy due to financial hardship, it can be devastating to later find yourself facing criminal charges of bankruptcy fraud. At Simmons Wagner, LLP, we have helped clients in the exact place you are sitting today. Contact us at (949) 439-5857 now if you require a free legal consultation with an experienced bankruptcy fraud defense attorney.
The Importance of an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are facing bankruptcy charges, you need an experienced attorney on your side. These are serious crimes that are taken that way. You could face an aggressive investigation, and the penalties could be severe. You do not want to trust this case to just any attorney – trust it to an experienced firm: Simmons Wagner, LLP.
Understanding the Legal Definition of Bankruptcy Fraud
Many people charged with or accused of this crime have no idea what it refers to. It is actually an umbrella term that can refer to several criminal offenses relating to Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.
The catchall definition of bankruptcy fraud is filing a petition for bankruptcy, or any document within a petition, with a scheme or intent to defraud your creditors. Additionally, it can apply to people who make untrue claims, promises, or representations in bankruptcy proceedings.
Examples of Bankruptcy Fraud
There are many specific acts that can be unlawful. Some of the most common bankruptcy-related unlawful acts include:
- Falsifying forms
- Concealing/destroying records
- Concealing/transferring assets to prevent them from being given to creditors
- Bribing/attempting to bribe a court official
- Filing in several jurisdictions
- Making false statements while under oath
- Filing under several identities
- Embezzling from the bankruptcy estate
Note that there are many other potentially unlawful bankruptcy-related acts, but the above are some of the most common.
Potential Consequences of a Bankruptcy Fraud Conviction
Bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime, and there are several provisions that apply to it. In most cases, federal sentencing guidelines specify a maximum prison sentence of five years if a person is convicted of bankruptcy fraud and up to $250,000 in fines. However, certain types of bankruptcy fraud can come with their own consequences.
- Concealment of assets; false oaths and claims; bribery. A conviction for this crime can result in up to five years in prison and/or fines.
- Embezzlement against the estate. A conviction for this crime can result in up to five years in prison and/or fines.
- Adverse interest and conduct of officers. A conviction for this crime can result in fines and forfeiture of the defendant’s office.
- Fee agreements in cases under title 11 and receiverships. A conviction for this crime can result in up to one year in prison and/or fines.
- Knowing disregard of bankruptcy law or rule. A conviction for this crime can result in up to one year in prison and/or fines.
Note as well that in addition to criminal consequences, it is also possible that your debts will no longer be discharged. As a result, your bankruptcy filing could be dismissed, you would still owe your debts, and you would not be able to re-file for a specific amount of time, depending on the type of bankruptcy you filed in the first place.
If the bankruptcy fraud you are convicted of involves several unlawful acts, you could face criminal charges under several different laws and face a sentence for each conviction.
Defense Options to Bankruptcy Charges
If you are charged with bankruptcy, there are a number of defense options that could work for your case. Your bankruptcy attorney will carefully assess your case to determine the right way forward. Some of the defense options available to you might include:
- Showing that the alleged fraud was a mistake and that there was no intent to defraud.
- Proving that the alleged criminal activity was completed to accomplish something legal, such as selling an asset for half of its actual worth in order to qualify for a tax deduction.
- You corrected the error as soon as you discovered it.
- There is not enough evidence to prove the alleged crime.
- The statute of limitations has passed.
- You had no intent to commit fraud.
To talk to a criminal defense attorney, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a free legal consultation.