Unfortunately, the pressure of the holidays can mean significant problems. If you’re short on cash, you might be inclined to pass a check with insufficient funds. However, check fraud charges can be serious. In fact, you could be facing jail time.
In all practicality, you might just be a bad bookkeeper. Is your ATM card attached to your checking account? For many, this is dangerous territory. You might not have intended to write a bad check to Walmart, but it can certainly happen. Meanwhile, that check and others may bounce. And, yes, the bank will tack on some hefty fees to make the situation even worse.
You should know that New Jersey law contains specific language regarding bad checks. In some cases, you could use as a defense that the check was not presented in a timely fashion.
Truth be told, not all check fraud charges involve mathematical mistakes. Some are considered to be far more calculated. For example, you could be accused of check kiting.
Check Fraud Charges: Check Kiting
Have you heard of check kiting? In most cases, this is considered a deliberate act. For starters, it requires the accused to have access to at least two checking accounts. Both accounts are opened with small balances.
For illustration purposes, let’s say you deposited $200 in TD Bank. Meanwhile, your balance is just $50 at the local PNC bank. However, you need some extra funds for holiday presents. You decide to write yourself a check for $500 from PNC and deposit it in your TD Bank account. You withdraw the funds as quickly as possible.
You can easily spot the problem and why it might cause a legal issue. You don’t have $500 to transfer between accounts. On the first day, TD Bank makes $100 of the newly deposited funds available. By the next day, the balance is available.
If you have engaged in this type of practice, you may find yourself facing check fraud charges. You can’t write a check from an account that has insufficient funds to cover it.
Closed Checking Account
Meanwhile, you may come across a checkbook from an old account. You really don’t bother to check to see if you have any money available for withdrawal. In fact, you may be reasonably sure that the account is closed.
In any case, you decide to pay a repair guy with a check written from a closed checking account. Unless you make quick restitution with cash, you shouldn’t be surprised if bad check charges are filed against you.
Penalties for Passing Bad Checks
You might wonder if passing a bad check is a misdemeanor or felony. Accordingly, you should know that neither term is actually used in New Jersey. What other states refer to as felony offenses are known as indictable crimes in this state.
With that in mind, bad check charges can be serious. However, not all are indictable crimes. According to NJSA 2C:21-5, check fraud charges involving less than $200 are the only non-indictable offenses. They are heard in municipal court.
The penalties for passing fraudulent checks vary according to the amount of the check. For example, someone who issued a check for over $75,000 with insufficient funds could be facing up to ten years in prison. Additionally, the court would assess costs and fines.
Are you facing check fraud charges? The consequences of a prospective criminal record can be overwhelming. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo for legal advice.