Over the last decade, law enforcement agencies in Florida and across the country have aggressively pursued individuals suspected of committing bankruptcy fraud. This is in part due to the economic recession of 2007 and the consequential hardships that have been experienced by individuals and homeowners nationwide. It is a serious federal offense, and if you believe that you may be charged with bankruptcy fraud or that allegations of this type of fraud may be raised against you, immediately consult with a Tampa bankruptcy fraud lawyer to discuss your charges.

Joffe Law, P.A. offers residents of Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas experienced legal counsel. Our team of professionals have spent decades protecting the rights of clients and have an in-depth understanding of the complexities and nuances associated with white collar crimes like bankruptcy fraud. We can provide your unique bankruptcy fraud case with the time and attention that it deserves and help you protect your assets and legal rights. If you may be facing allegations of bankruptcy fraud, there are a few things you may want to know. Below, we will take a look at how bankruptcy fraud is prosecuted, what the possible penalties are, how it is defined, and what defenses could be available to defendants.

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How is this federal crime defined?

Bankruptcy fraud is a serious offense and is one of the most common white collar crimes committed in the United States. Federal bankruptcy laws offer protections to debtors that allow them to have their debts wiped clean or greatly reduced in exchange for the repossession of certain assets. This can include vehicles, homes, valuables, and more. Bankruptcy fraud occurs when an individual who claims bankruptcy intentionally deceives a government agency in order to keep some of their assets, avoid paying certain collections, or for any other reason that produces monetary gain. Bankruptcy fraud is almost always a federal crime. Federal crimes usually carry steeper sentences and harsher penalties than crimes that have been committed at a state level. This is because federally run agencies mandate strict adherence to laws that are laid down by the federal government.

Types of bankruptcy fraud

There are many different types of bankruptcy fraud and understanding them may be helpful.

  • failure to disclose assets: This type of fraud usually involves nondisclosure of assets can affect the amount you are obligated to pay to creditors.
  • failure to disclose income: Individuals who do not disclose all income from all sources may be in danger of bankruptcy fraud charges.
  • fraudulent transfers: Fraudulently transferring assets in an attempt to conceal them from federal bankruptcy agencies is also a federal crime.
  • lying on credit applications: Lying on credit applications or falsifying documents that have any relation to your bankruptcy is a criminal offense that may be federally prosecuted.
  • filing multiple petitions: Filing multiple bankruptcy petitions is also a crime if done using more than one social security number.There are a few other forms of bankruptcy fraud, but generally, any act that intentionally defrauds a bankruptcy agency for a gain of some kind may be considered to be bankruptcy fraud and subsequently prosecuted in federal court.

How severe are the punishments?

The penalties for bankruptcy fraud are severe, to say the least. While your case circumstances may vary, you can trust that if you are being contacted by a bankruptcy agency at a federal level, legal representation will be needed. Every bankruptcy fraud case is unique and will have different subsequent charges and possible penalties. Only an experienced federal defense attorney, like the ones at our firm, will be able to tell you exactly what penalties you may be facing in your case. We can’t say what your penalties will be, though we can give you a general idea of how bankruptcy fraud is usually penalized in the United States. It’s important to note that bankruptcy fraud is rarely prosecuted as a stand-alone crime. In most cases, other charges and multiple counts of different crimes may be added to a case of bankruptcy fraud. For instance, bank fraud ( (18 U.S.C. Section 1344.), a separate crime, will likely be one charge that accompanies any bankruptcy fraud case. Other charges include falsified federal document charges (18 U.S. Code Section 1623), false declarations before a court (18 U.S. Code Section 1623), Bribery, embezzlement, and more. Any of these crimes can carry penalties of up to 20 years in federal prison as well as extremely high fines and probation time. Bankruptcy fraud simply isn’t something to mess around with. Hiring an experienced federal attorney is your best bet for reducing or eliminating charges of this kind.

Defenses one might utilize

Your defense strategy will be unique to your individual case. If you really want to know what defense strategies will work for the allegations of bankruptcy fraud that you may be facing, contacting a qualified federal white collar defense attorney is your best options. Some defenses that may help you reduce charges or counts include proving that you had no intent to commit bankruptcy fraud, providing proof that your case is outside of the statute of limitations, or showing evidence that documents were never falsified.

Joffe Law, P.A. is a call away

If you believe that you may be facing allegations in Hillsborough County or elsewhere in Florida, the sooner you retain a qualified Tampa bankruptcy fraud attorney, the better. Your legal advisers will be able to help you form defense or mitigation strategies and figure out what’s really going on behind your individual federal investigation. At Joffe Law, P.A., we can give your federal fraud case the attentive care that it demands.