High-profile criminal defendant Casey Anthony has filed for personal bankruptcy in the state of Florida this week. According to the filing Ms. Anthony is indebted to various parties for about $800,000 but has assets that total just over$1,000. She is currently unemployed and lists no source of income on the filing.

Like other Florida residents who are faced with an overwhelming debt that they simply do not have the assets or income to pay off, Ms. Anthony is seeking bankruptcy protection to relieve her of some of these obligations and to help refinance others into manageable payments.

The bulk of the debt is the result of legal fees, court costs, and other expenses related to her 2011 trial in which she was accused of murder but found to be not guilty. Ms. Anthony is also subject to several civil suits arising out of the criminal trial process. Filing for bankruptcy means that the lawsuits cannot proceed against her and that she may be immune from judgments for money damages in those cases since it is clear that she will be unable to pay them.

Ms. Anthony has likely been struggling to find employment because of the extremely bad effect that the criminal proceedings had on her reputation and because she is trying to keep her whereabouts unknown to the public for personal safety reasons.

Bankruptcy filing offers a fresh start for borrowers who cannot meet their debt obligations, and the court supervised process is a more secure, reliable way to refinance debts than trying to negotiate directly with creditors.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Casey Anthony files for bankruptcy, calling it a ‘step towards closure’” Desiree Stennett, Jan. 28, 2013.