Can I Face Criminal Charges for Writing a Bad Check?

When a person writes a check and presents it to a bank or merchant, and does so knowing that their bank account cannot cover it, they are committing a crime called check fraud. Passing a bad check can be defended in court by claiming “you did not know” if the state cannot prove intent. This is because passing a bad check is sometimes unintentional, and rather, a result of poor or irresponsible banking practice. On the other hand, there are countless cases of intentional check fraud, ranging from petty to white collar. What happens to a person who knowingly writes a fraudulent check? Continue reading to find out.

Intentional and Knowing

In order for a person to be convicted of check fraud, the state must prove that the defendant wrote and submitted the check knowing that there was not enough money in the account to cover the amount. This court standard is called “intentional and knowing”, and it is the primary element to every check fraud case.

If a person is simply bad at balancing their check book, it is possible that they did not knowingly write a bad check. In this case, the state could not prove intent, so the court could not convict the defendant of check crime. However, the defendant can still be held liable in civil court for any fraudulent checks written. In civil court, they can be ordered to pay restitution to the merchant that received the bad check. Not paying back restitution could lead to more lawsuits and poor credit scores.

What to Do if You Write a Fraudulent Check

If you accidentally write a bad check, you must resolve the situation immediately in order to show you are not trying to defraud anyone. This means paying back the bank for any overdrafts and associated fees, or paying back the merchant who cashed the check. In these cases, time is of the essence, so be sure to act fast. Even a phone call to notify the merchant can help avoid criminal charges from being filed.

Intentional Check Fraud

If you intentionally wrote a fraudulent check, it is not likely that the police will come knocking at your door to arrest you. Instead, the state will issue an arrest warrant and you will need to surrender to the jail and then post bail. If you are worried about being arrested or caught, you need to speak with a licensed criminal defense lawyer right away. They can help you develop a plan that best protects your rights and prevents the maximum penalties for your charges.