Florida law prohibits issuing bad checks, drafts and debit card orders or stopping payment on a check with the intent to defraud. The consequences for intentionally issuing worthless checks, drafts or debit orders may include fines, fees and possible imprisonment. If you have been charged with a worthless check crime in The Villages or any surrounding communities, contact Whittel & Melton to discuss your rights and options.
Stopping payment on a check valued at less than $150 is classified in Florida as a second-degree misdemeanor with maximum penalties of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Knowingly providing a check for less than $150 is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. In general, insufficient checks written for more than $150 are considered a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
When the bank denies payment of a check, a person or company must notify the writer of the check of the insufficient status. Upon receiving the notice, the writer of the check has 15 days to avoid prosecution by paying restitution and a service charge. A service charge is mandatory and can be calculated as follows:
- $25 if check value is not more than $50
- $30 if the check amount exceeds $50, but is less than $300
- $40 if the value of the check is more than $300, or 5% of the check amount
If no payment is made by the writer of the bad check within the 15 day grace period, the person or company the check was made out to can refer the case to the State Attorney’s Office.
By contacting Whittel & Melton we can guide you through several possible defenses to fight a worthless check criminal charge. You cannot be criminally prosecuted for issuing a bad check if the following scenarios apply to your situation:
- The check was not deposited in a timely manner. (Usually 30 days from the date the check was issued.)
- The check was illegible.
- The check was postdated.
- The recipient of the check agreed to hold the check for a period of time.
- The recipient of the check had knowledge the account the check was written from had deficient funds.
Our experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can build your defense tailored around the specific circumstances of your charges. In many cases involving bad checks we find that the person accused seriously lacked the knowledge that their account did not have the appropriate funds available to cover the charges. We may be able to argue that you lacked any criminal intent and that you actually had every intention of having the correct funds available. We also regularly see bad check charges associated with identity theft and the accused is actually a victim themselves, so they are not responsible for any charges pertaining to check fraud.
The two most common ways that people attempt to pass a bad check are writing checks on an account that has insufficient funds or writing a check on an account that has been closed. Writing bad checks can be a misdemeanor or felony in the state of Florida depending on the value and the circumstances surrounding the case. In most cases, checks $150 or less are misdemeanors and checks that are over $150 are charged as felonies. If you are facing charges pertaining to writing bad checks, then you need to obtain legal help as soon as possible. Just because you are accused of a crime, does not automatically mean you are guilty. Our Villages Check Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can discuss you legal options with you and work to build a successful defense strategy on your behalf. While we cannot guarantee any specific outcomes, we can promise to do everything in our power to achieve the best possible results for your case.
If you or someone you know has been accused of writing worthless checks, it is best to consult with The Villages Worthless Checks Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton right away. Our team of attorneys can assist you whether you have just received a notice that your check was dishonored by the bank or if a civil or criminal lawsuit is already underway. We can provide you with the information you need to understand to avoid a conviction and harsh financial and criminal consequences. If you or a loved one is facing a bad check charge in The Villages or anywhere in Marion, Sumter or Lake County, contact Whittel & Melton today online or dial us at 352-369-5334 for a free consultation.