Bankruptcy is intended to allow people unable to pay their debts or financially troubled businesses to either discharge certain debts or make plans to repay them. Bankruptcy cases are overseen by trustees appointed by the United States Department of Justice or the creditors involved in the cases, and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts under rules outlined in the United States Bankruptcy Code.
All debtors who are filing bankruptcy are expected to be open and honest about all of their financial affairs during the process, and certain omissions or criminal actions can constitute bankruptcy fraud. When a trustee suspects fraud, it can result not only in dismissal of the bankruptcy case but also federal charges that may lead to heavy fines and a prison sentence.
Lawyer for Bankruptcy Fraud in San Antonio, Texas
Have you been arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for alleged bankruptcy fraud in Texas? It will be in your best interest to immediately retain experienced legal counsel.
The San Antonio criminal defense attorneys of Goldstein & Orr have served in leadership roles of multiple local, state, and national legal organizations and been invited to speak at several prominent legal seminars across the nation. Call (210) 226-1463 or fill out an online contact form right now to receive a complete review of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Bankruptcy Fraud in Bexar County
- How does a person commit bankruptcy fraud?
- What are the consequences if convicted of this offense?
- Where can I find more information about bankruptcy fraud in San Antonio?
Debtors may be charged with bankruptcy fraud if they engage in an act that misleads the bankruptcy court or knowingly commit a prohibited act in connection with their bankruptcy cases. Some of the most common actions that lead to individuals being arrested for bankruptcy fraud include, but are not limited to:
- Concealing Assets — One of the most common reasons that people are hesitant to file bankruptcy is the fear of losing everything they own. While this fear is usually unfounded, an attempt to hide assets is also one of the most common reasons that alleged offenders are charged with bankruptcy fraud. Assets include property such as homes, vehicles, and land, but many debtors also attempt to hide money in other accounts, possibly those of friends or relatives.
- Running Up Credit Card Debt — When people know that they are going to file bankruptcy, some debtors have the belief that they might as well max out their credit cards before doing so. This is a mistake. The trustee will review all purchases made on credit cards when reviewing bankruptcy cases, and major recent purchases are almost always viewed as fraudulent because the debtor bought the items with no intention of ever paying for them.
- Making False Statements or Filing Incomplete or Incorrect Forms — Debtors can be held accountable for providing any kind of inaccurate information, whether it is in person during bankruptcy hearings or in sworn documents submitted to the court. All people filing bankruptcy are instructed and expected to carefully review their paperwork and testimony (and possibly have a lawyer’s assistance in doing so), but debtors can face criminal charges when they are knowingly dishonest about material misrepresentations. While this can mean that certain honest mistakes relating to otherwise trivial oversights may be forgiven, many other types of dishonesty will be considered false declarations that are evidence of bankruptcy fraud.
- Filing Bankruptcy in Multiple States — A person commits fraud by filing bankruptcy in more than one state. Some alleged offenders use the same name while others try to use aliases, but others attempt to file in multiple states often involve an attempt to conceal assets—possibly in hopes of discharging new debts that were accumulated after previous filings. People who file bankruptcy generally have a specific amount of time they must wait before they can file again.
- Bribery — While rare, some debtors will promise money or favors to trustees in exchange for approval of their bankruptcy cases. Because a bankruptcy trustee is a court-appointed professional assigned to a bankruptcy case, people should avoid making any sort of offer (including something as harmless as buying a trustee a cup of coffee) during an ongoing case.
Under 18 U.S. Code § 152, a person who commits bankruptcy fraud may receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000. Additionally, 11 U.S. Code § 523 states that individual debtors will not be discharged from any debt for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit that was obtained through fraud.
A bankruptcy court can also choose to deny certain exemptions that a debtor assumed would protect some of their property, meaning that property will be taken by the court and used to pay back the creditors. In short, a conviction for bankruptcy fraud can leave many people feeling worse off than before they attempted to file.
United States Bankruptcy Court | Western District of Texas — Bexar County falls within the jurisdiction of the Western District of Texas and San Antonio is one of the five court locations in the district. You can learn more about the judges, filing fees, and filing statistics on this website. You can also download various forms, find case information, and review local rules and standing orders.
San Antonio Division
Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and United States Courthouse
615 East Houston Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
U.S. Trustee Program | Department of Justice — This federal agency “monitors the conduct of bankruptcy parties and private estate trustees, oversees related administrative functions, and acts to ensure compliance with applicable laws and procedures.” You can learn more about the program, the specific responsibilities of trustees, and office locations on this website. The Bankruptcy Information Sheet also provides an overview of what you can expect during the bankruptcy process and you can also find answers to frequently asked questions.
Find a Lawyer for Bankruptcy Fraud in San Antonio, TX
If you were arrested or believe that you are the target of an investigation for alleged bankruptcy fraud, you should not delay in seeking legal representation. Goldstein & Orr has defended clients accused of bankruptcy fraud and related white collar crimes throughout Bexar County since 1968.
San Antonio criminal defense attorneys Gerry Goldstein and Cynthia Orr specialize in criminal law and criminal appellate law, having both been Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. You can have our lawyers review your case by calling (210) 226-1463 today to schedule a completely free initial consultation.