Thursday, March 3, 2016

Can Criminal Fines Be Discharged in a Bucks County Bankruptcy?

I receive many referrals from attorneys, especially Bucks County criminal defense lawyers.  Frequently they want to know whether their clients fees, costs, and restitution can be included in a bankruptcy to get them a fresh start.

Sadly, the answer it generally "no" for a Chapter 7.  If you owe court costs and fines pursuant to a criminal case, those charges are generally not dischargeable.

If you owe restitution as part of a criminal case, it is generally not dischargeable.  Restitution can be for property damage.  If there is a DUI with an accident out of Bucks County, for example, you may be liable for the property damage of the vehicle and any surrounding damage (such as a light pole).  

Restitution can also be for medical bills.  This can include co-pays or deductibles from hospitals.
If there is a "theft of services" charge and a person owes restitution to the victims, that is not able to be discharged.

If a person files a Chapter 13, however, there can't be a discharge but it is potentially possible to pay the fines, costs, or restitution in the plan.

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