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Benefit from the Experience of Attorneys Bill and Valerie Sherman Former Assistant Attorney General, Assistant County Attorneys and Magistrate Judge

Can I Include Criminal Fines in a Bankruptcy?

Question: With all the legal stuff in the media these days I have a question about my own situation. It's not like I'm Aaron Hernandez or Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman or Edward Snowden. But I did get into some smaller stuff compared to those guys. I got a DUI, a pot charge and I got arrested for shoplifting. Since I lost my job at the restaurant and bar I've had trouble making payments on my mortgage and my car, which is a hooked-up BMW.

O.K., since I live in Georgia I know I have to file bankruptcy here. Can I get rid of my court fines for my drunk driving and marijuana and stealing charges if I file for bankruptcy in Georgia? I got cases in Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett.

Answer: I'm quite certain you are not Edward Snowden, Aaron Hernandez, George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. Snowden, Hernandez and Zimmerman are charged with serious criminal offenses; Trayvon Martin is deceased. But you have asked a good question. Criminal court fines are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Put another way, the fines that a court imposes after a guilty plea or guilty verdict must be paid. They are not like credit card debt, medical bills or money owed because of repossession. And that is true in every state, not just Georgia, because bankruptcy law is federal and applies throughout the United States of America.

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