WHAT IS A WORTHLESS CHECK?
A worthless check is not limited to old fashioned paper anymore; a worthless check can be an electronic check, a paper check, a debit purchase, or several other forms of monetary promise. Any person who knowingly writes a check, or makes a debit purchase without the funds available to cover the amount is committing a crime. Writing a check or making a debit purchase is considered a promissory note to pay, in the event that you do not have sufficient funds to cover the amount you could face criminal charges. Writing a worthless check is not done solely by bad people or people who have no fear or respect for the law.
In many cases writing a worthless check can happen to the most law abiding citizens who find themselves in the smallest instance of poor judgment. Anyone can have an instance of poor judgment or even find themselves caught in a web of financial errors that are not their fault. In any case you can protect yourself from any further damage by hiring a Florida criminal defense attorney to represent you. The type of criminal charge you face is based on the amount that has been promised for payment. There are exceptions within the law for post dated checks as well as situations that the debtor has notified the creditor in advance of the insufficient funds.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer for more detailed information about legal exceptions. Checks (or debits) up to 150 dollars are considered misdemeanor offenses and you can be charged with a misdemeanor as well as the party that is owed having the right to file civil charges against you. Promissory notes that exceed 150 dollars are felonies and are punishable by fines and time in prison. If you have been accused of writing worthless checks or know that you have and need to know where you stand consult a Florida criminal defense attorney immediately. A Criminal defense attorney will be able to assess your situation and provide valuable legal advice that can make the difference between paying fines and serving time in prison.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting for someone to contact you if you have written a worthless check. Take the initiative of clearing up the matter and getting yourself back on the right path. If you find yourself in the mist of criminal proceedings hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you before things get out of control.
PENALTIES OF WORTHLESS CHECKS
It may seem harmless to write a check for more than you can afford and get away with it. You may not see any harm right away, the problem is that committing a crime can have a way of catching up with you slowly and when they do you can face serious consequences. The state of Florida does not take the act of writing worthless checks lightly. Writing worthless checks can have severe consequences. In some cases depending on the circumstances and the amount of the check you could be faced with minimal fines and no time served.
Unfortunately that is certainly not a guarantee and certainly does not happen as a majority rule, in many cases you can face more severe punishments that include steep fines and time in prison. Worthless checks that are up 150 dollars are considered misdemeanors and punishable by up to 1000 dollars in fines and 12 months in jail. Felony checks are reserved for amounts that total over 150 dollars and have much harsher punishments. These punishments include fines up to 5000 dollars and 5 years in a state prison facility. Once a creditor demands payment of the amount owed by you in writing the creditor has the right to pursue legal action against you in civil proceedings. These punishments are determined by the court system and in many cases having a criminal defense attorney to represent you and negotiate on your behalf can save you time and money. Depending on the situation your attorney may be able to keep you from having to serve time in jail or even prison.
You should always hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in a case regarding worthless checks, because your lawyer will be knowledgeable and experienced with criminal law procedures and provide a much more effective defense on your behalf. You shouldn’t gamble with your future by being misrepresented in court or misunderstanding your rights. Having to pay enormous fines or being tagged with a criminal record can haunt you for years to come if not the rest of your life. If you have questions about Florida law regarding the penalties for writing worthless checks you can do research on your own but in the end it is always best to consult a criminal defense lawyer to ensure that you are receiving accurate information that will apply to your particular circumstance.
WAYS TO FIGHT A WORTHLESS CHECK CHARGES
When you find yourself faced with criminal charges for worthless checks there are steps you can take to fight it. Hiring a Florida criminal defense attorney can help you determine the most effective method of fighting your case but here are a few acceptable defenses listed under Florida Law; a very common claim is that there was no intent to be dishonest. If you had a reasonable belief that you had sufficient funds at the time of the purchase you can claim that you had no intent to be dishonest. Mistakes are common and many people improperly balance their checkbooks causing a check to be returned or unpaid.
The term check is not limited to paper checks therefore this defense can also be used for insufficient debit charges and electronic checks. This is a reasonable defense and many people find themselves in this situation. Another defense that can be argued is that the party who accepted the check knew in advance that the check was worthless or the account it was drawn on had insufficient funds at the time of the purchase. This prevents the creditor from claiming they were wronged or harmed by to no fault of their own. If a person places a stop payment on a check after making a purchase the creditor cannot claim that you intended to pass a worthless check.
There are many cases were a consumer is justified in stopping payment of a check because of financial errors either malicious or unintended. The creditor is allowed to recover the amount of the purchase but the consumer is free to use this argument in court as a defense against worthless check charges. There are many more arguments allowed under Florida law and it is best to consult with your criminal defense attorney in regards to your specific case. You should never represent yourself against criminal charges as you could be doing yourself a serious disservice. Hiring a criminal defense attorney will provide you with an educated and experienced advocate that will fight for you and keep your best interests in mind. State prosecutors are experienced professionals familiar with current Florida statutes and prepared to present a prosecution case against you. Criminal law is complex even when you are experienced in the practice of it. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating them and finding yourself hit with large penalties and fines or even jail time.