Is there really any innocence in filing for bankruptcy protection? I think most Americans would like to believe there is some innocence in all of the madness, but in reality, there is culpability on both the creditors’ and debtors’ sides of the issue.
Trying to Understand Innocence in Filing for Bankruptcy
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines innocence as blamelessness; chastity; freedom from legal guilt; simplicity or lack of worldly experience or sophistication; or ignorance. When filing for bankruptcy protection, how might each of these definitions of innocence apply?
Blamelessness. The freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil. In our American society, many citizens in the past have viewed filing for bankruptcy as a weakness or a bad character trait. This view is slowly changing. Whereas there will always be people who take advantage of a system like the bankruptcy process, the truth is most people filing for bankruptcy protection have been doing so because they had no other financial choice.
Chastity. Chastity really doesn’t play into any discussion on filing for bankruptcy unless you consider that being a virgin to bankruptcy is a virtue. In that case, those who have never experienced filing for bankruptcy are innocent from that reality, and they may not understand what all the hoopla of filing for bankruptcy protection is about.
Freedom from legal guilt. Filing for bankruptcy protection is a legal action guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. It is no crime to be in debt nor is it a crime to not be able to pay your bills. Unless it can be proven that you committed fraud in getting into debt, you are innocent of any legal guilt when exercising your Constitutional right in filing for bankruptcy protection.
Simplicity or the lack of sophistication. Simplicity can be considered freedom from guile or cunning. People who knowingly abuse the bankruptcy system are not innocent because they have either guile and/or cunning in their motives in filing for bankruptcy. A small percentage of filers commit bankruptcy fraud, but many of them are caught and punished. Very few of us in the United States lack sophistication or a lack of worldly experience. Lets face it. We are capitalists, sometimes very proud of that fact, and there is nothing innocent about that.
Ignorance. Ignorance is usually no excuse in any court of law including bankruptcy courts. A lack of knowledge about how to handle your finances can certainly lead you to filing for bankruptcy protection. You may be innocent in your lack of knowledge, but that same ignorance may prevent you from getting out of your financial mess even when filing. Ignorance of bankruptcy laws is the best reason to consider hiring a bankruptcy attorney to help you deal with their complication.
Placing Innocence in Perspective When Filing for Bankruptcy Protection
Is there really any innocence in filing for bankruptcy protection? A debtor can be innocent legally in that most filers are not guilty of any legal wrong doing by filing, but their ignorance, blamelessness, lack of sophistication, or chastity in never having filed before will be no excuse in the eyes of the bankruptcy judge. All those filing for bankruptcy protection must go through the same bankruptcy process regardless of their degree of innocence, and they must abide by the same bankruptcy laws.
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