If you have a checking account or a debit card, chances are you’ve written a check or used your debit card when your account was running low. It happens to almost everyone. That’s a mistake, not a crime. Bouncing a check is a crime when you know that your account has no funds or you use fake checks to obtain property.
Writing worthless checks might not seem like the most severe crime. However, you could get in serious trouble and even face a felony for using bad checks in Florida. Having the right attorney could make a big difference. At Moses & Rooth, we have extensive experience fighting for our clients. After reviewing your case, we will put together a game plan that could help give you the best chance to obtain a dismissal, not guilty verdict, or face a reduced sentence. Contact us today.
What Is a Bad Checks Offense in Florida?
Section 832.05(2)(a) of the Florida Statutes defines the term worthless check. Under Florida law, a person commits a crime if they issue, draw, deliver, make, or utter a check, draft, or use a debit card for the payment of money, knowing that the account does not have sufficient funds to cover the payment. This rule applies to people and businesses alike. The section refers to purchasing goods with a worthless check. However, section 832.05(4)(a) refers to using a worthless check to obtain services, goods, wares, and “other things of value” as well.
Section 832.05(4)(b) says that using a debit card to pay for goods, services, or anything of value, knowing that the account has insufficient funds, is also a crime.
The statute contains two exceptions to the general rule. The crime of passing a bad check does not occur when the drafter informs the recipient that the account has insufficient funds. Additionally, the exception applies to postdated checks. Postdating a check means you write the check but date it for a future date. The check holder cannot collect the funds from the check until the date posted. Section 832.05(3) discusses a related crime. A person who cashes or deposits a worthless check knowing the account has insufficient funds commits an offense if the person deposited the bad check with the intent to defraud the banking institution.
Penalties for Using Bad Checks in Florida
Passing a bad check is a first-degree misdemeanor. The sanction for this offense is no more than one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, passing a bad check with a value over $150, using a debit card without sufficient funds over $150, and depositing a bad check with the intent to defraud are third-degree felonies. The maximum penalty is five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
There could be other penalties associated with these offenses as well. The court could order you to complete probation and pay restitution to the victim. The judge could also look more deeply into why you passed bad checks. Many people struggling with addiction will do anything they can to get some money to feed their drug or alcohol addiction.
A felony conviction carries more severe consequences. If you are not a citizen of the U.S., you could lose your naturalization rights, be denied admission to the country, or face deportation after a felony conviction.
Your employment could suffer as well. The rules of your chosen profession might obligate you to report your prosecution to a licensing board. The board could bring charges against your professional license. Even if you do not hold a professional license, passing a bad check is a crime that relates to your personal integrity. As a result, employers might not hire you because such a conviction might indicate that you are not trustworthy.
What Should You Do If You Are Worried About How Much Jail Time You Can Get for Bad Checks
Contacting a reputable defense lawyer with extensive experience is your best bet.
At Moses & Rooth, we have nearly 40 years of combined legal experience. As prosecutors, we aggressively pursued justice. Now, we do the same as defense lawyers.
We understand how to pursue every potential line of defense vigorously. We rely on our training and experience to figure out how we could help you get a dismissal, a not guilty verdict after trial, or a plea to a reduced charge. When you call Moses & Rooth to schedule a free consultation with one of our Orlando criminal defense attorneys, we will start building your defense from our first meeting. From there, we will aggressively fight for you and your family. You have only one chance to defend yourself; call us today.