Is Writing a Bad Check a Crime in North Carolina?
You probably encountered “bad” (worthless or fraudulent) checks, perhaps even fallen victim to a bad check scam, or know somebody who has. Typically, these scams involve drafting a check that is intentionally false, whether it’s because the banking institution, account, or another other piece of information is fake. But what about when somebody makes an honest mistake in writing a fraudulent check? For example, you could have written a check for money you expect to have in your account before the recipient cashes it in, but your money is deposited too late and the check bounces. What if you thought you had the money in your account, but miscalculated?
These laws are not supposed to punish people for making honest mistakes, but unfortunately this does not mean people have not been put through the rings of criminal investigations and charges over such mistakes before. Like many things in our criminal justice system, innocent people can and do face charges for actions they did not take, and getting a not guilty verdict requires effective legal representation, no matter how innocent the defendant thinks they appear to be.
In this article we discuss the variations of worthless check crimes in North Carolina law. It is important to note that if you are facing these charges, you will need to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. The lawyers at Tarlton Polk law have many years of experience handling such cases and know break down the elements of the crime that prosecution has against defendants. If you are facing an investigation or charges for worthless checks in North Carolina, give our lawyers a call.
Checks with Insufficient Funds
The first type of worthless check crime is when a valid account has insufficient funds or credit available to make the payment. This tends to be the crime that can catch a person by surprise, as banks can be slow to process deposits and withdrawals from many sources, which can really punish low income people.
To be guilty of this crime, the defendant must have drawn, make, utter, or issued and delivered a check or draft to another person, knowing that there are insufficient funds or credit available for payment.
Punishment structure is based on the amount of money the worthless check was made for. For a check or draft $2,000 or less, this crime is punished as a class 2 misdemeanor. If the check or draft is made for more than $2,000, the crime is punished as a class I felony.
Checks from a Nonexistant or Closed Account
The second type of worthless check crime is when a nonexistent or closed account is knowingly used to draw a check. For nonexistent accounts, the government must prove that the person who made the check did not have an account with the financial institution at the time the check was drawn. For a closed account, the drawer must have closed it before the check was drawn, or knew that the institution closed the account for them before it was drawn. This crime could also apply to knowingly writing a check for an account belonging to somebody else, though that may also subject one to other criminal charges like identity theft.
For a check or draft of $2,000 or less, this crime is punished as a class 1 misdemeanor. If the check or draft is made for more than $2,000, the crime is punished as a class I felony.
Obtaining Property for a Worthless Check
The third type of worthless check crime involves obtaining property using a fraudulent check. This happens when somebody, with intent to cheat and defraud, obtains money, credit, goods or anything of value by means of a check that was not indebted to that person. Essentially, if you knowingly claim something from a check that was not filled for you, with the intent to defraud somebody, you will be guilty of this crime.
This crime is punished as a class 2 misdemeanor.