Statute of Limitations18 U.S.C. § 3284
Title 18 U.S.C. § 3284 contains a special statute of
which applies to concealment of assets cases:|
The concealment of assets of a debtor in a case under title
shall be deemed to be a continuing offense until the debtor shall have been
finally discharged or a discharge denied, and the period of limitations
begin to run until such final discharge or denial of
Where the debtor either receives a discharge or is denied a
by court order, the application of § 3284 is easy. The five year
begins with the date of the discharge or denial of the discharge. However,
a debtor receives neither a discharge nor a denial of the discharge,
the statute of limitations is substantially more complex.
Currently there is no provision in the Bankruptcy Code for a
debtor to receive a discharge--i.e., a corporation is not granted a
from its debts. In addition, an individual debtor's bankruptcy case can be
dismissed without a discharge being either granted or denied. QUERY: In a
concealment of assets case where the debtor receives neither a discharge nor
denial of the discharge when, if ever, does the statute of limitations begin
These issues have not been directly addressed by the courts in any
recent cases. A literal reading of 18 U.S.C. § 3284 would mean that
statute would never run in the examples cited above since a discharge was
granted nor denied. The District Courts in United States v. Newman,
F. Supp. 269 (S.D.N.Y. 1945); United States v. Ganaposki, 72 F. Supp.
(M.D. Pa. 1947); and United States v. Nazzaro, 65 F. Supp. 456,
1946) all held that under the statute prior to 18 U.S. C. § 3284 (which
provided that the statute of limitation did not begin to run until the
received a discharge), the failure of the defendant to secure a discharge
there was no statute of limitation. They held that this was the clear
Congress used, and, whether it was wise or not, it was well within Congress'
The District Court in United States v. Fraidin, 63 F. Supp.
(Md. 1945), concerned about the possibility of no statute of limitation
old law, held that Congress really meant that the statute of limitations
also begin to run from the time the debtor was denied a discharge, even
Congress did not say it at the time. In 1948, Congress changed the statute
include the present "denial of discharge" language.
The Ninth Circuit, using the present 18 U.S. C. § 3284
in an individual bankruptcy case, reached the result that failure of the
to either receive a discharge or be denied a discharge resulted in no
limitation. Winslow v. United States, 216 F.2d 912, (9th Cir. 1954),
cert. denied, 349 U.S. 922 (1955) (Winslow had full control to either
receive a discharge, or if that was not possible, to secure an order denying
discharge. Since he did neither the statute of limitation did not begin to
run.); see also, Rudin v. United States, 254 F.2d 45 (6th
cert. denied, 357 U.S. 930 (1958)(because a corporation could apply
a discharge within six months after its adjudication of bankruptcy, the
of limitations did not begin to run for the corporate officer who concealed
assets until six months after the corporation was adjudicated a bankrupt).
Under present law there is no provision for a corporation to apply for, or
receive a discharge.
The District Court in United States v. Zisblatt Furniture
78 F. Supp. 9 (S.D.N.Y. 1948), appeal dismissed, 172 F.2d 740, (2d
1949), appeal by U.S. dismissed at request of Solicitor General, 336
934, (1949), disagreed with all the previous District Courts and held that
statutes of limitations are favored by the law and should be liberally
in favor of the defendant. Since the corporation in Zisblatt had not
applied for a discharge, the general statute of limitations began the date
individual defendant, who was an officer of the company, concealed the
Thus a debtor who receives neither a discharge nor a denial of the
discharge and who commits the crime of concealment of assets could have the
statute of limitations begin to run on the date of dismissal or on the last
a discharge could have been granted or may have no statute of limitations at
PRACTICE TIP: Although a false statement or declaration may also
constitute a "concealment," Burchinal v. United States, 342 F.2d 982,
(10th Cir.), cert. denied, 382 U.S. 843 (1965), only the crime
concealment of assets receives the benefit of the extended statute of
provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3284. False statements, even for the purpose
concealing assets, are not covered by 18 U.S.C. § 3284. United
Knoll, 16 F.3d 1313, 1318 (2d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom.
Gleave v. United States, 115 S. Ct. 574 (1994), reh'g denied,
S. Ct. 925 (1995).
[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 858; USAM 9-41.001]