There are two types of penalties for writing bad checks:
Civil penalties address the amount that the check recipient may collect after having received a bad check. There are bank penalties, as well as other penalties that the person who wrote the check that bounced or was not honored must pay.
Criminal penalties mean that a person can be prosecuted or arrested for bad check writing.
How does a civil matter turn criminal?
Writing a bad check can turn into a criminal matter if the intent to defraud is present. This means that the person who wrote the bad check fully intended to defraud the other party.
In Pennsylvania, a person who knowingly passes a check that will not be honored can face criminal charges if caught. The seriousness of the criminal offense depends on the amount of money on the check itself.
If you have written a check for under $200 dollars, you will be charged with a summary offense, which is similar to receiving a traffic ticket.
If you have written a check that bounced for between $200 to $500, this is generally considered a third degree misdemeanor. For bounced checks between $500 and $1000, you can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
If you have written a bad check for $1000 to $75,000, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries the most severe penalties of all misdemeanors. Bad checks of $75,000 or more will be charged as a felony.
Conviction of any of the above offenses involves a fine and or potential jail time. In general, the court will order the person convicted to reimburse the payee, including interest and service charges.
In situations where you are being prosecuted, you may want to hold off on resolving the civil matter until your criminal case is resolved. In many cases, the outcome of the court case can include resolving satisfactorily the obligation to the payee, which would negate the need for a civil case.
Have you been accused of passing a bad check?
To discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, email the lawyers at The Law Offices of John E. Kustriss, Jr. or call us at 610-565-0240 to schedule an appointment.
We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover, including debit cards.