Bankruptcy fraud is a serious federal offense. The most common basis of a bankruptcy fraud charge is an allegation that assets were concealed or undervalued in order to keep them from becoming subject to the bankruptcy proceeding. If you have been accused of bankruptcy fraud, you may also have prosecutors looking at additional charges such as wire fraud and bank fraud which carry even greater punishment ranges.
If you or a loved one has been accused of bankruptcy fraud, it’s important to contact an experienced Fort Worth bankruptcy fraud lawyer. The criminal defense attorneys at our firm have experience defending these allegations, working with forensic financial analysts and challenging these cases in federal court. We will thoroughly review your case and identify the most effective mitigation strategies to use in your defense.
What Constitutes Bankruptcy Fraud?
In situations where a person’s debt outweighs their ability to repay their creditors, it may be necessary to file for bankruptcy. However, if the person filing for bankruptcy is dishonest during the process – perhaps by hiding assets or purposely filing inaccurate paperwork – they could be charged with bankruptcy fraud under 18 U.S. Code § 157.
There are various actions classified as bankruptcy fraud. Trying to hide one or multiple assets is one of the most common examples of bankruptcy fraud. During the bankruptcy process, you, as the filer, must answer various questions under oath. Concealing information, minimizing income, or making deceptive affirmations while under oath could also lead to criminal charges.
If a bankruptcy trustee, business partner, spouse, or creditor believes assets are being concealed or misrepresented, the trustee has the power to inquire into the validity of transactions and contact federal investigators regarding suspected fraud.
Federal prosecutors can bring charges for making false statements in a bankruptcy filing, taking a false oath in regard to a bankruptcy petition, engaging in a scheme to hide and hold assets until after the bankruptcy, as well as the fraudulent transfer of assets.
You could also be charged with bankruptcy fraud for leaving some of your wages off the bankruptcy documents, accumulating massive debt shortly before filing for bankruptcy, submitting bankruptcy petitions in more than one state, or trying to sell off property right before submitting the bankruptcy petition.
In order for prosecutors to get a bankruptcy fraud charge to stick, they must prove that you deliberately engaged in fraudulent activities. Without the intent to defraud during some aspect of the bankruptcy process, there may not be sufficient legal grounds for filing or proving federal bankruptcy fraud charges.
If you have been accused of committing bankruptcy fraud, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer by your side. Our attorneys in Fort Worth have extensive experiences handling white collar cases involving accusations of fraud.
Learn more about our federal criminal defense practice.
What are the Penalties for Making False Bankruptcy Claims?
How much time a defendant will face if convicted of bankruptcy fraud depends on the federal statute(s) under which he or she is charged, the circumstances of the case and criminal history. A conviction could carry a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Since most allegations of bankruptcy fraud also include allegations of other criminal offenses, the judge may impose a heftier sentence in some cases. For instance, if you are charged with engaging in bank fraud along with bankruptcy fraud, a conviction for the first charge alone could bring up to 30 years in federal jail and a $1,000,000 fine. The outcome of a bankruptcy fraud conviction can be bleak. That’s why an attorney should be consulted as soon as someone is accused of making a false bankruptcy claim. The earlier an attorney can examine all angles and start formulating a defense strategy, the better off the defendant will be.
Contact a Fort Worth Bankruptcy Fraud Lawyer Today
If you or loved one is accused of making fraudulent claims of bankruptcy, it’s imperative to have an solid legal defense. Our firm offers a free comprehensive phone consultation to answer your questions and help you determine the next steps for your criminal case. Discuss your defense with our Fort Worth bankruptcy fraud lawyers by calling us today.