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Is Writing a Bad Check a Civil or Criminal Matter?

If you pay for goods and/or services with a check, and you do not have enough money in your account to cover the total cost of the item(s), the check will bounce – or be denied. The person or business you purchased merchandise from will not be able to recover funds for the products they sold you. In Florida, if you did this intentionally, you could face both civil and criminal penalties.

Civil Litigation

Under Florida Statute § 68.065, a merchant can initiate a lawsuit against you if you paid for something with a bad check. You can be sued for the total cost of the goods and/or services you received, as well as three times the amount you owe.

Before the payee can initiate civil action, they must first send you a letter by certified, registered, or first-class mail. The correspondence must let you know that the check you wrote was not honored and you have 30 days to pay the full amount.

The merchant could also assess service charges for the bounced check, which are as follows:

  • $25 for goods/services valued at up to $50
  • $30 for goods/services worth between $50 and $300
  • $40 for anything over $300

In addition to the surcharges, you could also be held responsible for the payee’s court costs, attorney fees, and bank fees that resulted from the bounced check.

Criminal Prosecution

If you knowingly issued a bad check, you could also face criminal charges. Under Florida Statute 832.05, providing a worthless check in an amount less than $150 is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if the value of the items is $150 or more, the level of offense increases to a third-degree felony.

It is also a felony of the third degree to submit a check knowing you don’t have enough funds and intended to defraud the merchant.

Even if you later paid the total amount of the goods/services you received, you could still be criminally prosecuted for your actions.

Reach Out to The Wiseman Law Firm Today

There are several reasons why a check you wrote to a merchant could be declined for non-sufficient funds. Perhaps you didn’t log a transaction or your spouse made a purchase and forgot to tell you. Our attorney understands that particular circumstances could result in inadvertent actions and is ready to fight aggressively on your behalf. With over 15 years of legal experience, we know what it takes to build an effective legal strategy and work toward getting charges reduced or dropped.

If you were charged with a criminal offense in Orlando, call us at (407) 708-9127 or contact us online.