Ocean County Check Fraud Defense Lawyer
Be Prepared with What it Means to be Charged with Writing Bad Checks in New Jersey
Accidents happen when it comes to managing finances. Unfortunately, one that can have adverse effects is writing bad checks. A bad check, also known as a ‘hot check,’ is a check that is unable to be cashed for a couple of reasons: it is either written from an account that doesn’t exist, or the account from which it is written doesn’t have sufficient funds to cover the amount for which the check is written. While it may seem like a small issue to write a bad check, it is illegal in New Jersey. As a result, writing a bad check can lead to a number of consequences.
If you have been accused of check fraud, it is important to know more about what a bad check is according to the law in New Jersey and what legal consequences you could face if you write one. It’s equally important to seek the support of a qualified lawyer if you are believed to have written a bad check and are facing check fraud charges.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, our qualified team of criminal defense attorneys has handled numerous bad check cases on behalf of clients across Monmouth County and Ocean County, in towns such as Toms River, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Manasquan, Ocean Township, Neptune, and Freehold. To learn more about check fraud charges and how they may impact your life if you have been charged in New Jersey, view the information below and please contact our Brick, NJ and Sea Girt, NJ offices today at (732) 812-3102 for a free initial consultation with our lawyers.
Check Fraud Offense Law in New Jersey
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, a person can be charged with a crime if they “issue or pass a check…knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee.” This “knowing” that the check will not clear includes writing a check attached to an account that does not exist or no longer exists, or not paying the amount of the check in some other form or from another account within 10 days of receiving notice that the check did not clear. In these cases, the recipient of the check can turn to the legal system to collect the money owed.
How to Determine the Degree of a Bad Check Charge
Writing a bad check for less than $200 constitutes a disorderly persons offense. In New Jersey, a disorderly persons offense is equivalent to a misdemeanor crime, and it is handled at the municipal court level. Knowingly writing a bad check for more than $200, however, can result in a felony offense, and the degree of felony depends on the amount for which the check was written. For example, a bad check written for between $200 and $1,000 constitutes a fourth degree felony offense. A bad check written for between $1,000 and $75,000 constitutes a third degree felony offense. A bad check written for more than $75,000 constitutes a second degree felony. All felony crimes are handled at the Superior Court level and carry steep penalties.
Penalties and Fines for Writing Bad Checks
There are a number of consequences for writing a bad check. Check fraud may result in fines and jail or prison time for a disorderly persons offense or felony charge if the amount is not paid upon receiving notice of the bounced check. The penalty for knowingly writing a bad check for less than $200 (a disorderly persons offense) is up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The penalty for a fourth degree felony resulting from a bad check for between $200 and $1,000 is up to 18 months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. The penalty for a third degree felony resulting from a bad check written for between $1,000 and $75,000 is up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000. And the penalty for a second degree felony that is the result of writing a bad check for more than $75,000 is up to 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
How does Writing Bad Checks Happen?
Generally, bad checks are written when the account holder simply does not recall or isn’t aware that there are insufficient funds in their account. As such, the check issuer’s bank will generally charge a nominal fee for the bad check when the recipient attempts to cash it and is unable (when the check ‘bounces’). These extra fees for ‘insufficient funds’ can be up to $35, depending on the financial institution. As one could imagine, this could pose a difficulty or at least annoyance for the person who has written the check, because it’s possible that the fee itself is larger than the amount on the check for which it was charged; or it means an additional amount that must be paid, because the original amount owed is still outstanding. Unfortunately, this does not insulate a person from having to face severe criminal consequences if they are subsequently accused of writing bad checks and charges are filed against them.
Retain a Seasoned NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer to Help You Deal with your Check Fraud Charges in Toms River and Freehold, NJ
As you can see, the penalties for writing a bad check are severe and potentially life-changing. For this reason, it is essential that you have the support of a criminal defense lawyer with a thorough understanding of New Jersey law and defending check fraud cases. Our understanding of the nuances of New Jersey criminal law, as well as our excellent reputation for quality legal support, can aid you in pursuit of minimizing or negating the consequences you face for a bad checks charge.
Have you been charged with writing a bad check in Freehold, Red Bank, Wall, Berkeley, Seaside Heights, Lakehurst, Belmar, Lacey, or any other towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County? At Bronzino Law Firm, we are here to support you through resolving the matter swiftly and without steep consequences. We handle cases in Superior and Municipal Courts, so please do not hesitate to request our help with your defense. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation regarding your check fraud case.