Bounced Check can Bounce you to Jail
Do you have a checking account? Do you have a difficult time keeping your checking account in order? You might be in danger of writing a bad check.
In Virginia, when you write a check knowing that your bank account does not have the funds to cover the check, you are committing a crime. The severity of the crime depends on how much the check was written for and how many bad checks were written.
If you write one bad check for less than $200, you are guilty of a Class One Misdemeanor. A Class One Misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in jail and a fine or not more than $2500.
If the bad check was for over $200, you can be found guilty of a Class 6 felony which carries a jail sentence one to five years and a fine of not more than $2,500.
If you write two or more checks which have an aggregate value of $200 or more within a 90 day period which are drawn from the same account of any bank and made payable to the same person, firm or corporation, you can be found guilty of a Class 6 felony.
You might be wondering how the prosecutor is going to prove in court that you knew your account did not have enough funds to cover your bad check, as required by the state statute for a conviction. The law says that it is assumed you knew there was not enough money when you wrote the check unless you paid the holder back the amount that was bounced within fine days after receiving written notice that your check bounced.
If the bank notifies you by certified or registered mail to your last know address, that is deemed sufficient notice for the five days notice.
If the bank sends notice that your check has bounced to the address written on your check, that is good notice even if there is no return of service on certified or registered mail.
If the check was written from a bank in which you have no account, it is presumed you had the intent to defraud even if you pay the money back within five days.
Here are some helpful rules to follow regarding checks:
First, keep your bank account in order at all times so as to avoid writing bad checks in the first place.
Second, under no circumstances should you write a check for more money than you have in your bank account. If you owe more money than you can pay, call your creditors to try and work out a payment plan so that you can pay the amount due over time. Follow through with your agreed upon payment plan. Creditors are much more willing to work with you if they can trust that you will do as you promise.
Third, make sure your address is current on your checks so that if someone tries to notify you by mail that your check has bounced, you will receive the notification.
Forth, if you are notified that you have bounced a check, repay that amount immediately, in person if possible. Be sure to request a receipt showing the amount was paid within five days of the notice. Chances are if a creditor receives their money quickly, they will not go through the trouble of filing a criminal complaint. Going to court takes time and costs money. If you wait a long time and the creditor is frustrated, they are more likely to file criminal charges against you.
Finally, if you are arrested or if you receive a summons charging you with writing bad checks, see a lawyer immediately. Under no circumstances should you speak to the any law enforcement officer until you have first spoken with your attorney. Make sure that the attorney you speak to specializes in criminal cases and has had experience handling cases in your jurisdiction. Do not go to court without an attorney in cases where the judge has the power put you in jail.