Arrested for Writing Bad Checks in Los Angeles?
Overview of California's "Bad Check" Law
A check is considered "bad" if it has been written by a person who knows that there are insufficient funds to cover the entire amount of the check, or if it is cancelled by the writer before it can be withdrawn by the receiver. Writing bad checks is a serious criminal offense, and it is recommended that you contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer if you have been accused, arrested, or charged with the crime.
California Penal Code Section 476a states that writing a bad check can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. If prosecutors are to successfully convict you, they must be able to prove that there was a lack of sufficient funds at the time you wrote the check, and that you were aware of the deficiency and subsequently acted with the intent to defraud.
For example, you would commit a "bad check" crime if:
- You write a check from a bank account that is closed
- You attempt to cash a check on an overdrawn account
- You write a check and cancel it before it is cashed
What are the penalties for passing a bad check?
Passing a bad check could result in either misdemeanor or felony charges, so the penalties for a conviction will vary. This crime is a wobbler, which means that the prosecutor will look at the value of the bad check, your criminal history and the circumstances of the offense. For example, if you were caught passing a bad check that was less than $950 and you have no prior convictions on your record, you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor violation of California Penal Code 476a.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. On the other hand, felony charges carry up to three years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Civil penalties may also be accessed under California Civil Code Section 1719. This would require you to pay the full amount of the check to the victim, as well as a statutory service charge or penalty charge. In fact, the payee may sue for additional damages that could total up to $1,500.
Legal Defenses to Bad Check Crimes
If you were arrested for writing or attempting to pass a bad check in Los Angeles, you should act quickly to get in touch with a criminal attorney at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. There are a number of different legal defenses that could be used to challenge your bad check charges, which is why you should speak to an experienced defense lawyer before you talk to the police or plead guilty to your charges.
Some of the defenses that may be available in your case include:
- You had post-dated the "bad check" before issuing it to the payee
- You told the payee that there were insufficient funds in the account
- You, in good faith, believed that you had enough money to cover the check
- The bank made a mistake that prevented funds from being withdrawn
Legal Help for Bad Check Cases in Los Angeles
With more than 70 years of combined legal experience, Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners is fully prepared to defend you against charges of writing bad checks. Criminal charges are a serious matter that must be addressed immediately. We will provide you with swift and aggressive support that is intended to bring about the desired result in your case. Through our efforts, we may be able to have your charges reduced, or eliminated completely. Don't wait to take the first step; contact our office immediately.
Contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners now for a free case evaluation!