A checking account does not have the same “buy now, pay later” mentality as credit cards. While failing to pay your credit cards can have severe consequences, writing a check drawn from an account with insufficient funds is a crime. Writing a check in an amount that is not backed by actual cash in a bank can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances, and either instance can leave a lasting effect on your criminal record.
The “NSF” Check: Insufficient Funds
Writing a check without sufficient funds for your bank to pay out cannot be remedied simply by putting more money in the account. When a check is written to someone, the following series of events occurs:
1) Check is written out from Person A to Person B;
2) Person B attempts to deposit check into his or her own bank account at Bank B;
3) Bank B contacts Person A’s Bank A to request a transfer of funds;
4) Bank A transfers the funds to Bank B from Person A’s bank account into Person B’s bank account if there are sufficient funds to do so;
5) If there are not sufficient funds for the transfer to occur: Bank A notifies Bank B that there are not sufficient funds in Person A’s account to transfer to Bank B
The problem with this is that for many payments, receipt of a check is considered “payment.” True payment does not occur until the check “clears” in the bank- that is, the request from one bank to another is received and completed. By the time the recipient of the check finds out the check did not clear, the writer of the check may have skipped town, moved, or simply be difficult to reach.
Florida’s Bad Check Writing Laws
The state of Florida finds writing bad checks to be a serious offense. Under Florida law, there is an entire section of the criminal code devoted to violations involving checks and drafts. This code extends not only to physical paper checks, but also to the use of debit cards, automatic withdrawals, and other misrepresentation and fraud. A first time violator of the terms of the criminal code may be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, the most severe level of misdemeanor. It is important to note that if a person knows they received a bad check and attempt to cash it anyway, they may be held equally responsible. The same applies to writing a check from a closed account, a false account, or an authorized account. Subsequent offenses are charged as felonies and may land a person up to five years in jail.
Orlando Check Fraud Attorney
The law recognizes that people make mistakes. If the amount of a bad check is less than $150.00, if the check was written by an unauthorized third party, if the check was not timely deposited, or if a host of other factors exist, you may have a viable defense to your fraudulent check writing charges. Creditors and individuals claiming you wrote them a bad check have strict rules they must adhere to, including being required to notify the check writer by certified mail of an insufficient written check. Failure for creditors to abide to these rules may be a violation of your legal rights. At Moses & Rooth, our knowledgeable check fraud criminal defense attorneys know what your rights are and will help explain them to you in a way you can understand. If you or anyone you know has been accused of writing a false check, contact our Orlando office today to prevent a misunderstanding from becoming something on your criminal record.