July 22, 2011 By Wallin & Klarich

California strongly protects its citizens from individuals who fraudulently write bad checks. A bad check occurs when a person writes a check to a person or a company (such as a utility) knowing that there are insufficient funds to cover the amount of the check, or if the drawer stops payment after writing the check. Often time, people innocently stop payment on a check for a variety of reasons; however, this conduct is prohibited by law.

In order to be convicted for the crime of writing a bad check the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that at the time you wrote the check, either acting on behalf of yourself or as an agent to another, there was a lack of sufficient funds to cover full payment of the check. The prosecution must also show that you were aware of the insufficient funds at the time and that you acted with the intent to commit fraud.

California Penal Code Section 476a stated that writing a check while knowing that funds are insufficient can be charged as a misdemeanor offense that can be punished with a sentence of up to one year in county jail. In some cases, if the value exceeds $950, this offense can also be filed as a felony with a sentence of up to three years in state prison.

Not only is this a crime, but there are certain civil penalties associated with writing a bad check. California Civil Code Section 1719 imposes the obligation to not only pay the face amount on the check, but also a statutory service charge or a statutory penalty charge. Service charges can add up and be very costly.

This crime, like others, have defenses a person can raise. On important defense is the “good-faith” defenses. This is when a person charged with writing a bad check had honestly believed that he/she had sufficient funds, or was simply absent-minded when writing the check. To be convicted of this crime, a person must have knowingly wrote a bad check.

If you or a loved one is charged with writing a bad check, it is important for you to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney with knowledge of bad check law. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping people overcome allegations of knowingly writing checks without sufficient funds. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

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