Writing Bad Checks is a Criminal Offense
If you have written bad checks, also known as hot checks or bounced checks, you should contact the Duval county Hot Check Division before criminal charges are filed against you. It is possible for you to make arrangements to pay off the bad checks, along with whatever fee the merchant charges including a County Attorney fee. It is possible to set up an installment payment plan if you do not have the money to pay these fees in full.
Contacting the merchant or person you wrote the hot check to in order to make restitution will not remove the charges once they are filed with the county. If you pay the checks promptly through the county attorneys’ office, the prosecutor will often lower the offense or charge a fine only depending on the circumstances. If you don’t immediately take care of this, a criminal case of theft by check will be filed against you and a warrant issued for your arrest. Even if you then pay full restitution and fees, your case will not be dismissed and you will be facing prosecution.
Theft by Check is punishable by fines and jail time. Penalties are based on the amount of theft:
- Amount less that $20 —fine of $500
- $20 – $500 —fine of $2000 plus Six Months Jail time
- $500 – $1500 —fine of $4000 plus One Year Jail time
- $1500 – $20000 —fine of $10,000 plus Six months to two years State Jail time
- $20,000 – $100,000 —fine of $10,000 plus Two to ten years Prison time
- $200,000 or more —fine of $10,000 plus five to ninety years or life in Prison
What Defines a Bad Check?
Bad checks are defined as a check issued or passed when the person knows there are insufficient funds in the account or the account is no longer valid, i.e. a closed or terminated account. Many times a check is returned because of insufficient funds. This in itself does not constitute theft. To charge you with theft, it must be shown that you acted with criminal intent.
If you find yourself facing the possibility of charges of theft by check or have already been charged with a criminal offense we can help. Call for a free consultation and we will try to clear your situation without having a criminal conviction on your record. We are familiar with the Duval County Criminal Justice system and will review your options with you.