Skilled Check Fraud Attorneys Offer Possible Defenses Against Bad Check Charges in Annapolis & Throughout Maryland
Not every bad check that gets passed is a crime. Many people bounce checks, sometimes through no fault of their own. Oftentimes, the difference between the crime of check fraud and accidentally passing a bad check is the idea of a “contemporaneous transaction.” Think of this as an extension of theft: the person passing the bad check literally walks away with goods or services at the time the check is passed. It is not just putting a check in the mail to pay off a debt, but the contemporaneous transaction that sets it apart and makes it similar to theft.
In addition to being a contemporaneous transaction, the defendant must not have the intent to pay for the goods or services they walked away with when the check passed from hand to hand for the incident to be considered check fraud. Sometimes, it is as simple as the defendant stopping payment on a check after it was passed. If the defendant has a dispute about the goods or services received, it is not a crime. But, if no legitimate excuse for the stop payment exists, it may be a crime and a judge or jury may believe the stop payment on the check to be a way the defendant took goods he or she did not intend to pay for.
The more difficult cases arise when there are not sufficient funds in the account to cover the check and the check bounces. Often, the prosecution will introduce a certificate from the bank showing there were not sufficient funds to cover the check when it was written. A judge or jury can then infer that the defendant knew there were not sufficient funds to cover the check when it was drawn.
However, unlike a stopped payment, in order to prove someone guilty of the crime of check fraud, the prosecution must prove that the defendant did not make the check good within 10 days after the check bounced. To avoid creating a crime for an otherwise innocent mistake, the law has this built-in 10 day window, so that someone who accidentally passes a bad check can go back and make the check good quickly to prove they had no intent to steal the goods or services they got by passing the check.