Federal Criminal Lawyer Explains Bankruptcy Crimes

In the United States, bankruptcy is governed by federal law and bankruptcy courts are federal courts, although there are some state specific rules applicable regarding what types of property can be exempt from bankruptcy.

Because bankruptcy courts are exclusively under federal jurisdiction and federal laws control bankruptcy proceedings, those who commit fraud or who engage in other criminal conduct in connection with bankruptcy will typically face federal criminal charges.

Being charged with a federal crime is extremely serious and the penalties could be very harsh if you are found guilty of a crime connected with bankruptcy.

You need to ensure that you are represented by a dedicated and experienced attorney with the knowledge necessary to help you fight serious charges. LV Criminal Defense can help.

We provide representation to clients in Nevada, California, Arizona and Utah who are facing federal charges and we will put our legal knowledge to work on your case to ensure you get the best possible outcomes when faced with serious charges. Give us a call today to find out more.

Federal Laws on Bankruptcy Crimes

Federal criminal laws related to bankruptcy are found within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 9. There are eight different statutes within Chapter 9 related to bankruptcy offenses. These include:

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  • 18 U.S. Code section 151, which establishes definitions of words within Chapter 9 that are applicable to bankruptcy crimes. The statute defines the word debtor to include a person for whom a petition has been filed under Title 11. In other words, it makes clear that a debtor is someone who has filed for bankruptcy under federal law.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 152 makes it a crime to conceal assets during bankruptcy proceedings, as well as to make false oaths or false claims or to engage in bribery. If you have filed for bankruptcy, you can be charged under this statute if you make false statements under oath in connection to bankruptcy or if you hide assets from a custodian, trustee, or other official charged with the control of property under bankruptcy laws. It’s also unlawful to knowingly receive property from debtors with the intent to conceal the property or defeat any provisions of federal bankruptcy laws, or to give, receive, or attempt to obtain money, property, or renumeration in exchange for acting or failing to act in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 153 prohibits embezzlement against the estate. Knowingly and fraudulently appropriating money from a bankruptcy estate, destroying documents belonging to the estate, or transferring property unlawfully that belongs to the estate can result in a defendant being sentenced to up to five years of imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 154 addresses adverse conduct of officers. Custodians, trustees, marshals, and other officers of bankruptcy courts who knowingly purchase property from the estate they are managing can be fined and will forfeit their office. Custodians, trustees, and other officers also forfeit their office by knowingly refusing a reasonable opportunity for interested parties to make an inspection of documents and accounts related to the estate.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 155 deals with unauthorized fee agreements. Debtors, creditors, trustees, attorneys, receivers, and others involved in bankruptcy proceedings are prohibited from entering into agreements for purposes of fixing fees or compensation to be paid in connection with the proceedings from assets held by the estate. Conviction could result in imprisonment up to one year as well as a fine.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 156 prohibits knowingly disregarding bankruptcy laws or rules. Under this statute, if a bankruptcy case or related proceeding is dismissed as a result of a knowing attempt by a bankruptcy preparer to disregard bankruptcy rules, that bankruptcy preparer could be sentenced to up to one year of imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 157 defines the offense of bankruptcy fraud to include filing a fraudulent petition under U.S. bankruptcy laws, filing any document or proceeding in a bankruptcy case with fraudulent information, or making any false or fraudulent representations or claims. The penalty for bankruptcy fraud under 18 U.S. Code section 157 is up to five years of imprisonment as well as a fine.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 158 gives the attorney general of the United States the primary authority to designate individuals who will carry out enforcement activities related to violations of section 152 or section1 57. This statute also addresses bankruptcy investigations and bankruptcy proceedings.

If you have been accused of violating any of the federal laws related to bankruptcy, you could find yourself facing imprisonment along with fines. The consequences are very serious for conviction and you don’t want to put your future at risk so it’s imperative that you get the right legal help to respond to charges.

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Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

LV Criminal Defense has extensive experience providing legal representation to defendants who have been accused of violating the provisions of Chapter 9 of the Title 18. The federal government takes the integrity of bankruptcy proceedings very seriously and those who engage in any wrongdoing connected with bankruptcy laws could find themselves under investigation and potentially facing charges that must be resolved in federal court.

Not every attorney can provide representation in federal cases, especially in connection with bankruptcy which is a highly specialized area of law. Our legal defense team has the knowledge and experience necessary to protect your future by helping you to determine the best response to charges and by providing representation in court or during plea negotiations. Our goal is to make sure you get the best possible outcome, whether that involves fighting charges in court or trying to make a best deal to reduce penalties.

If you live in Arizona, Utah, California, or Nevada, we can provide the personalized help that you need when responding to accusations. To find out more about how our firm can help you, give us a call today.

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When I initially met with Mr. Wooldridge, he took the opportunity to sit and go over my problem with me. He described details in my case which he found disturbing and explained why he I should have him on my side.

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