Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What are Bad Checks?

In the state of Nevada it is illegal to write a check to pay for a product or service if you are fully aware that you do not have enough money in your account to cover the expense. According to NRS 205.130, writing a bad check involves passing a check in an act of willful fraud, or with the intent to defraud the seller. You could also be charged with this offense if you pass a check or draft to obtain money, delivery of property, the use of property, services, or credit extended by a licensed gaming establishment. Writing bad checks occurs frequently in Las Vegas, so the LVMPD and criminal courts prosecute these offenses harshly.
The penalties for writing a bad check will depend upon the amount the check was written for and whether the defendant has prior convictions for this crime.

Checks written for less than $250:
  • A misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and a maximum of 6 months in county jail.
  • If the defendant has 3 prior convictions for bad checks, the offense is charged as a Category D felony, punishable by fines up to $5,000, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and incarceration in state prison for 1 to 4 years.

Checks written for $250 or more:
  • A Category D felony, punishable by fines up to $5,000, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and incarceration in state prison for 1 to 4 years.

Possible Defenses

The key element of writing a bad check is the intent to defraud. Law enforcement and the prosecution must be able to prove that you intended to defraud the recipient of the bad check. If you did not intend to defraud anyone, you can fight your charges. Common defenses used in bad check cases include:
  • Lack of intent to defraud. In some cases, the defendant wrote a bad check unknowingly, assuming that there were sufficient funds in their account. Perhaps the defendant believed their paycheck was going to be issued before writing the check, or they did not know that their spouse or partner had withdrawn a significant amount from their account.
  • The account had sufficient funds. If the defendant’s bank account had sufficient funds when they wrote the check, they are not guilty of a crime. If the defendant can produce bank statements that show that they had the money in their account when they wrote the alleged bad check, the charges may be dropped.
  • The defendant paid within 5 days. In most cases, a person will not be prosecuted for writing a bad check if they pay back the money they owe within 5 days of being notified that their check bounced.

To learn more about this crime, visit the Bad Checks page on De Castroverde Law Group’s website.