In the United States today, bankruptcy law has many rules that serve to prevent fraudulent cases. Despite these rules, there are times when trustees catch mistakes or intentional abuse, which results in a case being dismissed, the denial of debt relief or the filing of criminal charges. With the exception of a filer intentionally committing fraud, the chances of one engaging in fraudulent conduct are low. The guidance and advice of a bankruptcy attorney will ensure the filing of a clean, strong case where there would be less of a chance for mistakes which could be interpreted as fraudulent conduct. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, or the surrounding area, Behm Law Group Ltd. can help you understand what can be interpreted as fraudulent conduct and how to avoid it in your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.
As an individual filer, you have two primary options for bankruptcy: liquidation or reorganization. Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy works to discharge your debts in exchange for the sale of your non-exempt assets. Chapter 13 reorganization works to structure your debts into a manageable repayment plan lasting from a three- to five-year period. There are various nuances in the types of fraud between the two bankruptcy options, but in general, four kinds of fraudulent actions make up the most common causes of case dismissal and possible bases for legal action, including the filing of criminal charges, against you.
- Intentional falsification of forms: Whatever chapter you file for, you will be required to submit a large number of forms, documents, and other paperwork detailing your financial history and current situation. False information or the intentional failure to provide any part of these documents can be considered fraud and result in a case dismissal. If you intentionally falsify information, you may even be charged with perjury, which could result in criminal charges being filed against you.
- Asset hiding: One common type of bankruptcy fraud in Chapter 7 cases is asset hiding. Because some filers can lose assets in liquidation during a Chapter 7 case, they can be tempted to hide assets. While it’s possible that some filers may get away with this, you will be denied debt relief if the trustee discovers that even a small asset of low value has been hidden.
- Multiple filings: You will be committing fraud if you file multiple cases with different information or in different jurisdictions either at the same time or within unacceptable periods of time between cases. You must adhere to court-regulated timelines between cases and provide requested information, or your case will be dismissed.
- Bribes: Bribery of bankruptcy trustees is rare but it has happened. The few who have at first gotten away with it are often caught later. Any bribery on your behalf will result in a dismissal of your case. Depending on the circumstances, there may be even more severe consequences for having offered someone a bribe.
If your case is dismissed for any reason, you may have to wait up to 180 days until you can file again. The easiest and most assured way to avoid any case dismissal or other issues with your case’s success is to work with a skilled and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.