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As the American economy continues to struggle, financial problems are affecting millions of people. While most who are struggling with their finances are doing what they can to get through this situation, others find themselves desperate and as a result are making decisions that come to be scrutinized by the federal government.
Two examples of charges that can result from allegedly bad decisions include bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Below you will find an overview of each type of crime, including examples of actions that would result in these charges, the statutes that govern these situations, the penalties that a convicted defendant could face, and finally, how you should proceed if you face either of these charges.
Bank fraud is an action or series of actions that are intended to wrongfully obtain financial benefits from banks or other financial institutions. These actions can be quite simple or incredibly complicated. Examples of actions that could constitute bank fraud include:
Of course, there are other examples of conduct that would result in an indictment for bank fraud, but the examples above represent some of the most common scenarios that result in this charge.
Since banks are backed and regulated by the federal government, a defendant who is accused of bank fraud is prosecuted in federal court and under the governance of federal bank fraud laws. There is one overriding statute that defines the crime of bank fraud, and below is an analysis of this statute.
The bank fraud statute can be found at 18 U.S.C. §1344. It is a very short and simply-worded statute, but that generally means that prosecutors are provided with flexibility in terms of how and when to apply its language to cases against defendants.The statute’s language states that:
This statute leaves open for interpretation several instances that could be labeled bank fraud. If someone is convicted of bank fraud, he or she faces severe penalties that include up to 30 years in prison and up to a $1,000,000.00 fine.
Millions of people file for bankruptcy every year, and given the rising number of filings in reaction to the present economic circumstances, bankruptcy fraud is a crime that is also on the rise. When people or businesses file for bankruptcy protection, they must present the court with a complete schedule of their debts, assets, and income so that the court can accurately deal with the estate and work through the bankruptcy case properly.
If bankruptcy fraud is suspected, the case is referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Examples of actions that could constitute bankruptcy fraud include:
Generally, if a petitioner lies to the court or attempts to “beat the system” in some way, an indictment could soon follow. If someone is tried and convicted of bankruptcy fraud in federal court, the penalties can be severe, and can include:
As you can see, bankruptcy fraud is a serious crime, and one who faces such a charge must act quickly to make sure that he or she builds the strongest defense possible.
If you are facing the possibility of dealing with charges of either bank fraud or bankruptcy fraud, you need to secure the help of an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at the law firm of Zimmermann Lavine & Zimmermann, P.C. today to schedule an initial consultation.