Debts can come in many forms, including the legal debt that is incurred by a defendant facing a major criminal charge. It is sometimes the case that a defendant is exonerated by the criminal courts, only to still owe thousands in court costs and attorney fees. This can cause unbearable financial strain on the defendant and can sometimes lead to the person seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Our readers in Wisconsin may be surprised to learn that Casey Anthony, the young mother who was accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter and then acquitted in a case that captivated the media for months, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection recently. According to papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in her home state, Anthony lists $729,000 in liabilities and only $1,100 in assets.
Anthony’s debts include approximately $500,000 in legal fees owed to her criminal defense attorney. Other debts include judgments against her from the local sheriff’s office for costs and investigative fees related to the case, court costs, and taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service.
It is up to the bankruptcy court to determine if debts can be discharged under Chapter 7, which is essentially a liquidation of assets in order to pay creditors. Depending on the debtor’s particular circumstances, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes recommended instead of Chapter 13, as the former does not require ongoing repayment of debt. Some people filing bankruptcy, including Anthony, may prefer a fresh financial start quickly.
Source: Washington Post, “Casey Anthony files for bankruptcy in Florida; lists $729K in debts,” Jan. 26, 2013