Question: I'm in a situation where I have too much debt. Not only do I have the sort of bills most people have like credit cards, car notes and a mortgage, but I have government fines and I have to pay restitution.
Basically, I have been convicted or pled guilty to some state and federal crimes. I'm not saying that I was really guilty; I'm just stating that I have to pay fines and restitution. I was not accused of doing anything violent just some fraud, embezzlement and insider trading. I got caught up with some bad folks and I was accused of some crimes. I had to go to court in Atlanta.
Anyway, the fines and restitution are very high. I owe the government and courts a lot of money. If I didn't have to pay them, I'd have enough cash to pay my bills. But now I'm falling behind on everything and debt collectors are always calling.
Is there any way to get rid of the fines and restitution if I file a bankruptcy? I really need to know because I'm looking at a foreclosure soon. I live in Atlanta. I used to live in Buckhead but now I live in Midtown and work at a furniture store.
Answer: Court-ordered fines, fees and restitution are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy filing. We have gotten this question in many different contexts. We have been asked whether fines and other charges are dischargeable when imposed by a probate court, a municipal court, a magistrate court, a state court, a superior court or a federal court. To be clear, in each case the fines, fees, costs, surcharges and restitution are non-dischargeable through filing bankruptcy.
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