There are a lot of reasons for a check to bounce, and bounced checks have become more common since the advent of electronic check clearing. So-called “bounced checks,” also known as “rubber checks,” insufficient fund checks” or NSF checks can result in pretty serious civil and criminal penalties if you aren’t careful.
Civil penalties usually involve a requirement to pay the amount of money the check was written for, plus an additional fine. Criminal penalties for writing a bad check vary depending on the face value of the check, the number of bad checks written within a specific period of time, and whether there is evidence that the person who bounced the check did so intentionally, with “an intent to defraud.” As with other crimes, a first offender will be probably be treated more leniently than someone with multiple arrests or convictions for writing bad checks or other types of check fraud or bank fraud.
Not every person who writes a bad check needs a criminal defense attorney. However, there are some circumstances when you should seriously consider getting legal advice from an attorney with experience representing individuals who have written bad checks. Those circumstances include:
- Writing a bad check for a large sum
- Being prosecuted criminally for writing a bad check, rather than just receiving a civil penalty (any criminal conviction can negatively affect employment opportunities)
- Being harassed by a debt collection company about a bad check (these companies are sometimes called check diversion companies)
- Receiving a collection attempt on a very old bounced check
- Being sued in civil court over a bad check (this lawsuit could show negatively affect your credit report)
For information on fair debt collection practices, check out the website of the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
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At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C. we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Kerrville criminal defense attorney, complete our intake form or call us at (830) 331-5977.