Derrick Hills, a bankruptcy petition preparer in Michigan, has been sentenced to serve 46 months in prison after being convicted by a jury of five counts of criminal contempt. Apparently, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes had issued five separate court orders barring Hills from assisting debtors with their bankruptcy filings, which Hills ignored. Judge Rhodes finally referred the matter over for criminal prosecution.
Bankruptcy petition preparers are not attorneys, and therefore, their authority to assist individuals filing for bankruptcy protection is limited. In fact, a petition preparer is only authorized to prepare paperwork and he/she cannot provide the debtor with legal advice or assist the debtor through the bankruptcy process.
While bankruptcy petition preparers may claim they can save you money in your filing, quite the opposite is often true. A petition preparer does not have the education or training to anticipate legal issues that may arise in your case. They can incorrectly complete your paperwork, file in the wrong jurisdiction, or make a mistake which creates an issue in your case. However, they are unable to help you fix the mess! As a result, you may be forced to hire an attorney to assist you. Your case could end up being more expensive than if you had hired the lawyer to handle your case correctly from the beginning!
Please keep in mind that every case is different. If you have questions about filing a personal bankruptcy, and would like to schedule a no-cost consultation, please contact our office by completing the form on this website or calling us at (954) 280-5066.