Bad Checks

Bad Checks

Have you been charged with writing bad checks? Or do you think you may be charged with writing bad checks? It is imperative that you have an experience defense attorney on your side.

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, a person who issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee, commits an offense as provided for in subsection c. of this section. For the purposes of this section as well as in any prosecution for theft committed by means of a bad check, an issuer is presumed to know that the check or money order (other than a post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:

  1. The issuer had no account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued; or
  2. Payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, or due to a closed account, after a deposit by the payee into a bank for collection or after presentation to the drawee within 46 days after issue, and the issuer failed to make good within 10 days after receiving notice of that refusal or after notice has been sent to the issuer's last known address. Notice of refusal may be given to the issuer orally or in writing in any reasonable manner by any person.
  3. An offense under this section is:
    1. a crime of the second degree if the check or money order is $75,000.00 or more;
    2. a crime of the third degree if the check or money order is $1,000.00 or more but is less than $75,000.00;
    3. a crime of the fourth degree if the check or money order is $200.00 or more but is less than $1,000.00;
    4. a disorderly persons offense if the check or money order is less than $200.00.

It is a crime to write a check knowing that it will not be honored by the bank. Section a. of the statute applies to individuals who issue a check where the issuer has no account with the bank at the time the check was issued. Section b. applies when after the check has been refused by the bank for a lack of funds, the bank gives the issuer notice and he still fails to make good on the amount due within 10 days after receiving notice from the bank.

The degree of the offense is laid out in section c. of the statute. The degree of the crime is determined by the amount of the check. The degree you are charged with determines the possible penalties you may face. These can vary drastically and substantially depending on the degree of the crime.

  • If the check or money order is $75,000.00 or more you will be charged in the 2nd degree and if convicted could be sentenced to 5-10 years in prison.
  • If the check or money order is $1,000.00 or more but is less than $75,000.00 it is a 3rd degree crime and the penalty is up to 5 years in prison.
  • If the check or money order is $200.00 or more but is less than $1,000.00 it is a 4th degree crime with up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
  • Finally, it is a disorderly persons offense to write a bad check that is less than $200. Although only a disorderly persons offense, you can still be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail.

In addition to any fines or fees, the issuer of the check will also have to pay restitution for the bad checks. In other words, that person must give the amount of the bad checks to whomever they were originally issued to. Most often this is a bank.

If you have been charged with writing bad checks, the prosecutor must prove that you issued the check knowing that it would not be honored. If the check is not honored, or bounces because of bank error or an accounting mistake then the charges should be dismissed. If you have been charged with writing a bad check or think you may be charged with writing a bad check, contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney at LS&P Lawyers.