Free Consultation
The office is open as per the NYS Covid-19 guidelines. We are now doing both in-person and telephone consultations. Please call the office at 718-855-6840 to schedule a time to speak with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

Can I go to jail for not paying my debts?

The answer, fortunately, is no.  There is no longer such thing in the U.S. (nor in most civilized countries) as debtors’ prison.

So why even mention the possibility?  Because debt collectors are getting more aggressive than ever and willing to cross lines without a second thought.

So if a debt collector threatens you with the possibility of arrest or jail time, don’t believe the hype.  (And it wouldn’t hurt to write down or record any such threat.)

The only way you could possibly go to jail–and I hesitate to even raise this as I don’t wish to unduly cause alarm or irrational fear of the bankruptcy process–is if you commit fraud in the context of bankruptcy.  But even if there were an allegation of fraud by a creditor, it’s a difficult allegation to prove, the process takes a while, would be defended with the help of an attorney and, even in a worst case outcome, wouldn’t necessarily mean jail time.

The key distinction is that debts and failure to pay them is a “civil” action which, if necessary, is dealt with in civil court.  Even most fraud connected with loans is considered civil fraud, and does not have criminal penalties (although fraud, if proven, could make the debt non-dischargeable). For jail time, there must be a “criminal” charge against you and the hearing would be in a criminal court.  (And you would likely hire an attorney specializing in criminal law to defend you.)

All of which is to say, debt collection and bankruptcy are viewed as financial problems to be resolved by a set process.  They don’t carry the moral stigma that people often attach to criminal acts.  And as well they shouldn’t.  Because at various times people in our society need debt relief and need bankruptcy help.  Without that, we’d be spending a lot of government money on debtors’ prisons.  And nobody wants that.

If you’re seeking help with debt collectors and have questions about the bankruptcy process in New York, please contact me for a free initial consultation.

Contact Bruce Weiner, Esq.

EMAIL Bruce Weiner
(718) 855-6840 (Local)
(866) 402-8476 (Toll Free)
Fax (718) 625-1966

Go to Bankruptcy Lawyer Brooklyn NY to learn more about Rosenberg Musso & Weiner LLP and/or to set up a free consultation.

Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner, L.L.P
26 Court St # 2211
Brooklyn, NY 11242, USA

Recent Posts

Beware Grace Periods, Debtors

Too often, debtors see grace periods offered by lenders as free benefits. “Grace” makes it sound so innocent. However, debtors who routinely rely on grace periods when making payments will find themselves facing financial difficulties that might lead to bankruptcy. The reason is that although creditors offer grace periods to debtors, they also use them

Read More »

Bankruptcy May Not Rescue You From Vicious Personal Disputes

Bankruptcy is a technical process that assumes everyone working within it is mostly rational. To the extent that it expects parties to deviate from irrational behavior, the Bankruptcy Code and its accompanying rules include incentives to keep parties in line. Creditors are usually large and impersonal, and they rarely care if their debtors file bankruptcy.

Read More »

Non-Lawyers’ Explanations of Bankruptcy May Be Wrong

Do you have financial problems? Do you tend to ask your friends for advice? Is one of your friends an experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer who will explain the process for you? Are your friends otherwise knowledgeable people? The answer to these questions may be, “Yes but you don’t know it.” Although many bankruptcy lawyers

Read More »

6 Steps to Take Before Filing Bankruptcy

Leaving your case to an experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer is not the only step on the to-do list before filing bankruptcy. There are many things debtors should do (and not do) before they file, and the more organized and mindful debtors are, the easier the process will be and the more effective the result.

Read More »

Social Security Number Not Necessary for Bankruptcy

A question that’s commonly asked about New York bankruptcy is whether a debtor needs a Social Security number to file. Debtors ask because they sometimes run across the bankruptcy form title, “Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers” (B 121), which asks debtors to list their current and prior Social Security numbers. The new bankruptcy

Read More »

How Can a Debtor (or Creditor) Get a New Trustee?

The trustee in a New York bankruptcy case is usually not the debtor’s ally. His or her purpose is mainly to administer the bankruptcy estate or ensure the debtor’s repayment plan goes according to plan. Trustees pursue preference payments, fraudulent conveyances, and other malfeasance committed by debtors. They frequently initiate adversary proceedings against debtors. In

Read More »
Scroll to Top