Bad checks are also known as kited checks, non-sufficient funds checks, bounced checks, rubber checks, insufficient checks and bogus checks. In Alabama, passing such a check can result in both criminal and civil charges. The bad check laws in Alabama tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the person writing the check.
Alabama’s civil punishment is the “greater of $10 or actual bank charges.” Alabama allows 10 days for an insufficient funds check to be honored after written notice to the drawer of the dishonored check was sent. During those 10 days, the drawer of the check has to contact the payee with arrangement for repayment. Failure to do so can lead to more aggressive collection activity on behalf of the payee. Collection agencies can be employed to collect the amount due and the bank charges. The payee also has the right to contact check clearing agencies listing the check-writer's name on a bad check registry. Having one's name on the registry can restrict the ability to use a check for payment.
The act of writing a check with non-sufficient funds is considered an act of fraud punishable by fines and jail time. In Alabama, the bad check law sets the penalty for a “check of $500 or more, fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 or imprisonment up to 3 years, or both.\" For a bad check under $500, the fine depends on the amount and the offense.
If a person endorses a check with the knowledge that it is bad, he can also be found guilty of fraud.
Evidence is always available to convict a person who has passed a bad check. Claiming an accounting error or claiming the bank held onto a deposit longer than it should have, is not a valid reason for writing a check without having adequate funds to cover the amount of the check.
Assistance from the District Attorney
In Alabama, county district attorney’s offices work on behalf of the victim to recover the amount of the check and any fees that are a result of the bad check. It is costly to write a bad check. The district attorney's fee for processing a bad check is $94, the cost is up to $28 for a return-check fee, plus the cost of the dishonored check.
There are checks that cannot be recovered with the district attorney’s help: checks that cover lease or loan payments and cash advance checks. A small claim is the avenue in which to pursue repayment for these checks. If the check is stamped with stop payment, forged, irregular signature, frozen funds or frozen account from the bank, the district attorney’s office cannot help with collection. Checks stamped with a forged or an irregular signature should be handed over to the police or sheriff’s departments for investigation. Generally, the district attorney’s offices take the approach that the person writing the check wants to make good on it. The offices usually will set up a repayment plan and offer counseling. The team from the district attorney’s office will also perform skip tracing tasks, arresting and prosecuting any person who chooses to avoid reimbursing the bad check.
Take Care Quickly
It is in a person's best interest to contact the business or individual that received the bad check immediately upon notice of the check being returned. Making arrangements to quickly reimburse the amount of the check and any fees that have been assessed to the check can help avoid prosecution.