Can You Go To Jail For Writing A Bad Check?
People do not use checks as commonly as they once did, but they are not entirely obsolete. Many people still rely on checks to pay their bills or for services, particularly if they do not have access to wire transfers. Unfortunately, these checks sometimes bounce, whether it is because another payment was taken out of the account, or a deposit was not made. Bouncing a check will result in penalties such as additional fees, but in some cases, it can also result in jail time. Below, our Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer outlines when writing a bad check is a criminal offense.
Florida Laws on Writing a Bad Check
Under Florida law, writing a bad check is known as check fraud. This criminal offense occurs when someone writes a check knowing they do not have enough money in the bank account to cover the amount shown on the check. The offense also does not involve only checks. Using money orders, debit cards, and any other type of commercial paper in the same way are also considered criminal offenses under the law. Forgery is another type of check fraud in Florida, but this crime is usually charged differently.
Check fraud can involve multiple parties, or just one person. For example, a person may write a check to themselves and deposit it knowing they do not have enough funds, only to immediately withdraw the same amount and take the money. Or, someone may write a bad check to someone else to pay for a service, knowing there is not enough money in the account to cover the amount.
Penalties for Writing a Bad Check
Bounced checks are very common, and law enforcement does not have the capacity to investigate every time a bad check is written. They will usually only investigate when they receive a complaint from someone or a company, such as a bank, and when it is believed someone intentionally wrote a bad check.
If someone is convicted of writing a bad check, the penalties they will face will vary depending on the amount of the check. If the check was worth less than $150, a person will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, the penalty for this is a fine no greater than $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
When the amount of a check is greater than $150, the offense is upgraded to a third-degree felony. If convicted, the penalties are up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. Regardless of the type of offense, anyone convicted will also have a permanent criminal record, which can hinder them in the future.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa Bay Can Help with Your Charges
People are charged with writing bad checks in Florida, but they do not all have the intent necessary for the act to rise the level of a criminal offense. If you have been charged, our Tampa criminal defense lawyer at All Family Law Group, P.A. can help you beat the charges. Call us today at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.