Passing a bad check is one of those crimes that can happen to anyone under the wrong circumstances. Normally, the person or business who receives a check that bounces will contact the check writer and payment is worked out.
If that does not work, they may give the bounced check to the local prosecutor's office.
Most prosecuting attorney offices will send out a letter to the check writer advising them to pay off the check to avoid having criminal charges filed. If the letter causes the check to be paid, then all is well, but sometimes circumstances get in the way.
It may be that the checking account mix-up that caused the problem is complicated by job, bank and residence changes. For instance, if the address on the check is no longer correct, the notice may never be received. The first time a person realizes they have a problem is when they get arrested on the warrant for passing a bad check.
Defending against a bad check charge is different from most other crimes. Obviously, if a person did not write the check, they may have a defense to the charge. In a majority of cases, however, the defendant did write the check, but may not have realized it would not be honored by the bank.
If you are charged with passing a bad check and plead guilty, you will have a misdemeanor conviction on your record. It is worth talking with an attorney who can work with the prosecuting attorney's office to see if there is a better resolution to your case. In Cole County, a dismissal is possible even in cases of clear guilt, depending on:
- the severity of the charge,
- the person's prior record; and
- willingness/ability to pay off the check and any applicable collection fees
In any criminal case where restitution may be a factor, the defendant should not deal with the victim directly to settle the matter. Once the prosecutor's office becomes involved, restitution should be made through that office, usually as part of a plea agreement with the prosecutor.
The Cole County prosecutor's office handles all Cole county bad checks, including checks written to state agencies such as the Missouri Department of Revenue. This means those bad check charges are filed here in Jefferson City, a situation that can be a particular hardship on defendants facing court appearances, even though they live far away.
Please call us at 1-855-LAW-4555 or local at 573-415-0240 if you would like to discuss your check case. Do not wait until the last minute. You may be able to save time, travel and money if the case can be resolved before your court date.