Writing a bad check doesn’t need to be intentional for it to be a crime, but where does the line between it being a financial mistake and a felony crime fall?
Check fraud is a real issue that should be on your radar. Here, criminal attorney Rahul Balaram shares what you need to know to avoid it.
What Is a Bad Check?
A bad check, also known as a bounced check or a rubber check, is when a person writes a check when there are insufficient funds in their bank account.
This can easily happen accidentally if a person is innocently ignorant to the fact that their bank account lacks the funds for the check they’re writing due to a mistake in balancing their checkbook, forgetting about automatic payments, or if their spouse uses their debit card to make a purchase without them knowing.
Then, when the check recipient presents the bad check to their bank, it will be turned away due to nonsufficient funds (NSF). Often times, banks will still allow the check to be cashed and charge an NSF fee of $20-40, which can be quite frustrating on its own. However, some will turn away the check, which may result in check fraud.
What Is Check Fraud?
Check fraud occurs when a person repeatedly writes many fraudulent checks in a short amount of time, knowing that there is a lack of funds in the bank account connected to it. In other cases, if a person steals someone’s checkbook and forges their signature, or writes a check when the account is closed, it is also classified as check fraud.
By committing check fraud, you’re lending yourself in hot water.
Penalties for Check Fraud
If a person is convicted of check fraud, they face up to thirty years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines. Of course, the severity of the penalty depends on the severity of the crime, and each state is different.
For milder cases, most people will end up being charged with a misdemeanor, which comes with some fines and up to a year in jail. However, for the more serious cases, they face felony charges that come with over a year in prison and hefty fines. For the more serious cases, they usually involve checks greater than $500.
How to Avoid Check Fraud
Fortunately, there are a few ways to avoid check fraud.
Most banks have programs that allow you to set up your checking account with a savings account to draw from in case there are nonsufficient funds for a check. Otherwise, always make sure to have at least $100 extra in your bank account at all times as a cushion, keep track of automatic payments, and monitor your bank accounts online.
What to Do if You’re Charged with Check Fraud
In the case that you’re charged with check fraud, it’s important to contact a lawyer right away. Because check fraud can result in some pretty heavy criminal charges, having a strong defense and an advisor for all of your questions gives you a fighting chance against these charges.
About Rahul Balaram:
Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.
Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.