Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
The process of filing for bankruptcy can be frustratingly personal. Having to disclose all of your financial details to the court can be intimidating and even embarrassing. As a result, it can be tempting to alter a few financial details in order to save face. However, it is critically important to understand the potential consequences associated with submitting false or incomplete information to the court. Depending on the nature of your submissions and/or omissions, you could be charged with bankruptcy fraud.
Bankruptcy Fraud and Associated Penalties
When a court finds an individual or business to be guilty of bankruptcy fraud, the consequences range from inconvenient to severe. Sometimes, when the incorrect or incomplete information submitted is relatively minor in scope, the offender may be charged with a fine. If the infraction is more serious, the court could deny the offender the bankruptcy discharge sought in the first place. And if an offense is particularly egregious, criminal penalties may be imposed. Such penalties could include additional fines, community service, liability for attorney’s fees and even incarceration.
It is for this reason that it is so important to fill out all bankruptcy-related paperwork truthfully and completely. One false or incomplete answer and you could end up facing consequences far more significant and lasting than embarrassment. It can be helpful to work with an experienced Memphis, TN bankruptcy lawyer while completing your bankruptcy filing so that you do not unintentionally misstep. Attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy law have a broad understanding of how the process works and will be able to advise you accordingly.
In the event that you have already intentionally or unintentionally submitted incorrect or incomplete information to the court, it is also a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney. You may be able to avail yourself of options that will minimize any potential damage you have done to your relationship with the court.
It is worth noting that omitting and falsifying financial information are not the only actions that may lead to accusations of bankruptcy fraud. If you have concealed a property transfer, paid someone to conceal property from the court, failed to list assets on your disclosure forms, made false statements during the course of your bankruptcy process or destroyed documentation related to your financial situation, you may also be in a position to be held accountable by a judge. If you are concerned about how any specific action you have taken (or not taken) may impact your case, please discuss your situation with your attorney.
Legal Help Is Available
If you have questions about the bankruptcy process generally or bankruptcy fraud specifically, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney. Attorney-client communication is almost always confidential, so you do not need to worry about voicing any questions or concerns you might have. Oftentimes, even if either intentional or unintentional wrongdoing has occurred, an experienced attorney can aid you in minimizing any potential negative consequences. In addition, consultations do not commit you to taking any particular course of action but simply allow you to make informed decisions about your situation moving forward.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLC for their insight into bankruptcy.