Consequences of Passing Bad Checks
At one time or another it has happened to many of us: We write a check to pay for something and later realize that there is not enough money in the account.
By: James Davis
Often this is just a simple oversight, you forgot to transfer money from another account or forgot that you recently made another large purchase from that account.
Most of the time, when someone issues a check with insufficient funds in their bank account, they will be charged a fee by their financial institution. The fee may vary, depending upon the particular financial institution’s policy. Usually that ends the matter.
When Checks Turn Criminal
However, if you are accused of writing bad checks in Florida on purpose then things are not nearly so simple. Under Florida law, it is illegal for a person to issue a check to an individual or commercial establishment if he or she knows that they do not have sufficient funds in their bank account, or if they stop payment on a check with the intent to defraud.
If convicted of passing a bad check, the consequences may be significant. For checks written under $150, the crime is considered a first degree misdemeanor. This comes with possible jail time up to one year and a fine up to $1,000. If an individual bad check or multiple bad checks are passed above the amount of $150, then defendants may be charged with a third degree felony. Such a charge carries a jail sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
A person passing a bad check may also be liable for civil damages. If they do not make payment on the check within thirty days of the check receiver’s demand, then they will owe triple the amount of the check, plus any bank fees, court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. If payment is made within thirty days, a service charge of $10 or 5%, whichever is greater, may be added. In a stop payment action, the check passer may be responsible for reimbursement of actual travel expenses for the filing of papers, and the travel and providing witnesses for any legal proceedings.
Long story short: Things can get very messy if you are accused of passing a bad check intentionally. To fight those charges, you are going to need experienced and aggressive legal help.
Passing bad checks can have significant consequences that haunt you the rest of your life, from finding housing to looking for a job. Those found guilty of passing a bad check face jail time and fines, along with civil damages to reimburse the recipient of the bad check. Florida courts take all of these charges very seriously, and they will not hesitate to enforce the stiffest penalties possible. If you have been accused of passing a bad check it is important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights. Contact James Davis with any questions about passing bad checks.