Writing a "hot check," or bad check, is a crime in the state of Arkansas. A person violates hot check laws when they knowingly write a check for an amount they cannot cover due to insufficient funds. The charges and subsequent penalties vary based on the amount of the check and if it is the offender's first offense or whether they have past convictions for the crime. Hot check misdemeanors in Arkansas have a statute of limitations of one year; for felonies, it is three years. After this time, the court will dismiss the case.
The Arkansas Hot Check Law
Arkansas Code Section 5-37-302, also known as the state's hot check law, states that a person will face charges for intentionally writing and passing a bad check. However, a check writer might not face charges right away. They have time to pay the funds on the check without prosecution, but if they make no attempt to do so, they'll face arrest. The charges and penalties that they incur depend on the amount of the check and their history of passing bad checks.
Not every bad check is intentional. Certain circumstances are not a violation of the state's hot check law. For example, a check may be:
- Passed for an account payment.
- Passed in exchange for a returned check.
- More than one year old.
- Not presented to a bank within 30 days.
- One on which there is partial payment.
- One that a merchant agrees to hold for a specific amount of time.
- One that is post-dated, a stop-payment or a two-party check.
Misdemeanor Hot Check Charges
When a person is found guilty of passing a hot check, they face unclassified misdemeanor charges. A first offense carries a fine between $50 and $500, imprisonment in a regional detention facility or county jail for up to 30 days, or both.
A second offense carries a $100 to $,1000 fine, confinement in a regional detention facility or county jail for up to 90 days, or both. A third or subsequent offense carries penalties from $200 to $2,000, imprisonment in a regional detention facility or county jail for up to a year, or both. The statute of limitations on a misdemeanor offense is one year.
Felony Hot Check Charges
A hot check becomes a Class B felony if the transaction is $25,000 or more or if a person passes a bad check more than once in a 90-day period. In this instance, each transaction can be less than $25,000, but the total amount of the transactions is $25,000 or higher. The crime becomes a Class C felony if the transaction is between $5,000 and $25,000, or if a person passes a bad check more than once in a 90-day period, and each transaction is $5,000 or less, with a total amount of more than $5,000.
Passing a hot check becomes a Class D felony if the transaction is between $1,000 and $5,000, or if a person passes a bad check more than once in a 90-day period. In this instance, each transaction must be $1,000 or less, with the total amount of the transactions $1,000 or higher. The statute of limitations for hot check felonies is three years.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.