About a month after filing for bankruptcy you must attend the Bankruptcy 341 Hearing (as required by Section 341 of the federal Bankruptcy Code), also known as the Meeting of Creditors.
There are important things we want you to know about this hearing:
- It is not in a courtroom and there is no judge present.
- The Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to your case conducts the 341 Hearing.
- You must be truthful and honest at the hearing.
- Your creditors will be notified of the hearing, but it is rare that creditors actually show up to the hearing.
- In the unlikely event one of your creditors does show up to the hearing, they may only ask you about information contained in your bankruptcy petition and the nature and location of your assets. They cannot badger you or demand an answer as to why you’re filing for bankruptcy.
Giving Honest Testimony at the Bankruptcy 341 Hearing
It is a crime to “knowingly and fraudulently makes a false oath or account in or in relation to any case” under the United States Bankruptcy Code. 18 U.S. Code §152(2). The broad language of this statute means that testimony in any aspect of a bankruptcy case, including in the Bankruptcy Petition or at the 341 hearing, are subject to criminal penalty. United States v. James W. Jackson, 836 F.2d 324 (7th Cir. 1987).
At the 341 Hearing, you will be asked questions under oath, under penalty of perjury. You are legally required to give honest testimony at this hearing.
Elements of a “false oath” violation are:
- The existence of a bankruptcy proceeding;
- A statement made under oath;
- The statement must be material;
- The statement must be false; and
- The Statement was made knowingly and fraudulently.
Metheany v. the United States, 390 F.2d 559, 561 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 824 (1968).
The materiality of a false statement is interpreted broadly. A false statement in regard to your estate, assets, income, history of financial transactions, or business transactions is material. As are misstatements about your social security number, failure to list prior bankruptcy filings, and possibly other false statements.
It is critical that you are truthful, honest, and accurate to the best of your knowledge in your Bankruptcy Petition and during your testimony at the 341 Hearing.
In general, as long as you are honest and truthful the 341 Hearing should not be a big deal. We understand that you will likely be nervous, which is why we take the time to prepare our clients for the hearing. Also, at our firm the attorney who prepares your Petition and files your case, is the attorney who is by your side at the hearing.
Free Consultation with an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy is a complex area of law, but don’t let that deter you. The truth is that bankruptcy may be one of the best decisions you could make for your financial future.
You can explore how bankruptcy can help you get out of debt with no risk. We offer free consultations to anyone in or near Savannah, GA who wants to learn more about the bankruptcy process and the benefits of filing.
Call us today at (912) 351-9000 or use our easy online form to schedule your free consultation.
The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel is the premier bankruptcy law firm in Savannah, GA. We have over 35 years of bankruptcy experience and we practice exclusively in bankruptcy law. We invite you to get to know us here and read about the clients we’ve helped here.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Find out more about Bankruptcy in our guide: All About Bankruptcy.