Purse Snatching Can Lead to Bankruptcy

by Stephen Kass on September 8, 2012

In March 2012, NYDailyNews.com reported a thief swiped a $25,000 crocodile handbag from the Ralph Lauren boutique on the upper East Side in New York, NY.  The thief wore a tan three-quarter-length coat with a maroon scarf, black pants and black boots when she left Madison Ave. at E. 72nd St. with the bag draped over her left arm on February 12, 2012, reported the police.

When stealing a purse, someone can be charged with a crime or get into civil legal trouble.  Under tort law, taking a purse can be considered trespass to chattel or conversion.  In criminal law, a person is unlikely to get away with not paying any fines or monetary penalties by filing bankruptcy.  Before using bankruptcy as a means to settle a debt, a person needs to engage an experienced New York bankruptcy attorney.  Bankruptcy does not discharge all debts.

Debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy include fines, restitution and criminal penalties.  Restitution and criminal penalties are government imposed money punishments. Examples include:  (1) Fines for agency regulation violations, (2) Interests, penalties for not paying estimated taxes on time, (3) Restitution ordered to be paid to crime victims, (4) Fines for misdemeanors and felonies, (5) Charges for time spent in jail such as after being arrested for driving under the influence.

Restitution is money a court orders a criminal defendant to pay a crime victim for economic losses related to a crime.  Economic losses may be the cost of a stolen purse, loss of wages, property damages, and medical costs.  The crime victim can place a lien on the defendant’s real property for the restitution amount, and use a restitution award to negotiate non-economic and punitive damages in a civil case.  Punitive damages are used to punish someone so that other people will be scared off and not engage in similar unlawful conduct.  The defendant is made an example to the rest of society.

One type of crime every-day people get involved in is driving under the influence.  When convicted for driving under the influence, the person may incur driving under the influence debt, resulting from personal injury claims for drunk driving.  In bankruptcy, this kind of debt may not be dischargeable.  Many people who get arrested for driving under the influence seem like honest people who pay their bills, and do not realize they are criminals similar to a purse snatcher.

A criminal conviction for any crime can result in fines depending on the number of prior offenses and whether property or people are harmed.  The fines can put a person in debt for life.  Eventual bankruptcy does not normally wipe out this type of debt.

For bankruptcy questions, contact an experienced New York bankruptcy attorney.

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