An individual or business may reach a point where there are overwhelming debts and relentless efforts to collect, causing that company or individual to seek protections provided by filing a petition with the Bankruptcy Court. The Court requires the creditor to present a clear and accurate picture of his liabilities (debts) and the assets available to liquidate the debts.
All facts submitted must be true and accurate, and are verified under oath by the bankruptcy petitioner when he or she testifies in bankruptcy court. The vast majority of bankruptcy fraud cases involve efforts by the bankruptcy petitioner to obtain relief from debts without fully disclosing all assets. To accomplish this “concealment of assets” debtors use strategies and techniques such as filing false forms, or not filing complete forms. They also transfer assets to trusted individuals (family, friends, or a business associate) to avoid having them liquidated in the bankruptcy. Another type of bankruptcy fraud involves filing multiple times in multiple states, often using the same name and same information – other times using fake name and fake information, and sometimes a combination of the two. By doing this, the debtor slows down the courts’ ability to accomplish a bankruptcy and liquidate assets. Bankruptcy fraud is prosecuted in both criminal and civil court.
Federal prosecutors typically bring charges for suspected bankruptcy fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 151. In order to prove bankruptcy fraud, the prosecution must show that the defendant “knowingly and fraudulently” made a misrepresentation of material fact. The maximum sentence is usually five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 may be assessed.
DEFENSE CONSIDERATIONS IN BANKRUPTCY FRAUD CASES
Concealment of assets can be considered fraudulent during and prior to bankruptcy proceedings if:
A key consideration in any bankruptcy fraud proceeding is that the government must demonstrate that the actions of the defendant were “knowing and fraudulent”. This can prove to be a substantial challenge to the prosecution in many cases, and an experienced defense attorney can often build a strong defense that challenges the prosecution on this key issue.
Additionally, bankruptcy fraud defense typically involves careful investigation and an ability to aggressively deploy procedural motions as well as a comprehensive effort to present facts to the prosecutor which point out the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. PROTECT YOURSELF! Make no mistake – if you have been charged with bankruptcy fraud, or if you believe you are at risk of being charged with bankruptcy fraud, it is critically important that you seek help. The earlier you seek help, the better your chances are of achieving a successful resolution of your case.
If at all possible you should contact Premier Federal Criminal Defenders and seek assistance before charges have been filed, so as to enable our team to explore the full range of possible defenses. By acting early, we can often prevent charges from being filed by challenging the strength of the prosecution case. Bankruptcy law is a complex and difficult situation – protect yourself and contact Premier Federal Criminal Defenders today if you believe you are at risk of being charged with bankruptcy fraud. Assert your rights and let us defend your freedoms.
Call Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney: Premier Federal Criminal Defenders, 11377 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064 1-800-455-6200.