What Happens if You Write a Bad Check?

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One of the problems that plagues America in this day and age is Americans spending more money than they take in. For many this problems stays isolated to credit card debt. Many take it a step further into writing checks without having enough money in their bank accounts to cover the cost of what they have purchased. They may feel that this is harmless as long as they eventually pay it back. However, even if someone does not mean to pass a bad check, there can be both civil and criminal penalties charged.

Civil Penalties

In most states, passing a bad check for more than $50 can constitute a felony. In many cases, if the check is paid quickly and without incident no charges will be filed but the bank fees. However, if the check is turned over to the city attorneys a series of legal actions can be taken against you. One of these legal actions are civil penalties. Civil penalties usually include paying the cost of the check, plus two to three times the cost of the check in restitution.

Criminal Penalties

On top of civil penalties, criminal penalties may also be charged if convicted. Once a check has been turned over to the District Attorneys office, you will be summoned to court. If you do not show up a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Criminal penalties vary dependent on the state the check was written in. Penalties can vary between community service to up to three years in jail. If convicted, a felony charge will also show up on background checks affecting your ability to get jobs or qualify for housing.

Bank Penalties

Even if you dodge jail time, your bank will still take action against you. On top of sending your payment to collections, they will also add overdraft fees, and may even close your bank account. Your account will also be turned into the Chex System database--affecting your ability to open up any future bank accounts at any financial institution.


About the Author

Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.

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