Michigan's Statute of Limitations on a Non-Sufficient Funds Check

By Karie Lapham Fay
It may be a crime to write a check that bounces.

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Bouncing a check is never pleasant. In Michigan and elsewhere, the consequences of bouncing a check are even worse. Writing a bad check can subject you to prosecution, as long as the statute of limitations has not expired.

Statute of Limitations

Each state sets limits on the time within which a prosecutor must file criminal charges. In Michigan, this time limit is six years from the date the check was written. After the statute of limitations expires, you cannot face criminal prosecution. Civil cases can still proceed, however, if you don't make good on the check.


Writing a check that is returned because of insufficient funds may be a felony, punishable by a year's imprisonment, if the check is for more than $200, or a misdemeanor for a check below that amount. A misdemeanor is punishable by 90 days in jail.

Though either is subject to the statute of limitations, exceptions exist. These include paychecks to laborers; rent checks; checks for which payment was stopped; checks for services; checks to repay loans or gambling debts; postdated checks; checks that constitute a car payment where the seller retains the car title; and second-party checks. In these instances, the bad check becomes a civil matter instead of a criminal prosecution.

Civil Penalties

Michigan law also allows a civil remedy for bad checks. Recovery of up to twice the amount of the check, as long as the total does not exceed $500, is allowed in civil court. In either civil or criminal procedure, a notice must be sent to the check writer, and the check writer is allowed an opportunity to redeem the bad check before further action. Additionally, prosecution may not proceed at both civil and criminal levels.

About the Author

Karie Fay earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in law from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. After growing up in construction and with more than 30 years in the field, she believes a girl can swing a hammer with the best of them. She enjoys "green" or innovative solutions and unusual construction.