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Check Fraud

Issuing Bad Checks, Check Fraud and Check Uttering

There are several laws dealing with issuing bad check and check fraud in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

  • Va. Code 18.2-181 Issuing Bad Checks
  • Va. Code 18.2-182 Issuing Bad Check on Behalf of a Business
  • Va. Code 18.2-170 Check Forgery & Uttering
  • Va. Code 18.2-173 Possession of a Forged Check

There are basically four types of check crime in Virginia:

  • Issuing worthless checks,
  • Forging Checks,
  • Uttering (or Using) Forged Checks, and
  • Possessing Forged Checks.

Issuing worthless checks: Va. Code 18.2-181, 18.2-182, and 18.2-182.1

Almost everyone has bounced a check at least once. What makes the writing bounced checks a crime is the intent to defraud.

If a person writes a check with the intent to get goods or services knowing that the check will bounce, is evidence of intent to defraud.

The problem is that it is very difficult for the prosecution to know what a person’s intent is. So Virginia law has created a short-cut for the prosecution.

Va. Code 18.2-183 says that the court can presume that a defendant has intent to defraud if:

  • The Defendant writes a check from a bank where they do not have an account, OR
  • If the Defendant does not pay the total amount owed within 5 days of receiving a certified letter stating that the check bounced.

The five day deadline counts even if the certified letter is not actually read or received by the defendant as long letter is sent to the defendant’s actual address or to the address on the check.

So the prosecution can prove a person had the intent to defraud if a person does not pay a bounced check within five days of a certified letter being sent to the address on the check.

The prosecution can prove intent to defraud even without certified letters. The most common way the prosecution proves intent to defraud is by the defendant’s own statements.

In most check uttering cases the defendant talks too much to the person they owe money. And during those conversations the defendant lets slip something that can be used to prove that they knew the check would bounce.

A common defense to writing bad checks is if the Defendant writing the check tells the person they owe money to that they do not yet have sufficient funds before giving them the check.

For example, if I write you a bad check, but before I give you the check I tell you that I don’t have enough money in my account and I tell you to wait before cashing it, then this is a defense to writing a bad check because I did not hide the fact that the check was no good so there was not intent to defraud.

Punishments for Writing Bad Checks

Writing bad checks worth $200 or more is a class 6 felony with a maximum punishment of up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Writing bad checks worth less than $200 is a class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for any form of check fraud can have serious effects on a person’s life. When an adult is convicted that conviction stays on their permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction for check fraud can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A Felony conviction can result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

Check Forging & Uttering

Check forgery is when a Defendant makes or alters a false check with the intent to defraud. This can mean making fake checks, altering a check without permission, forging someone’s signature or it can mean using someone else’s checks without permission.

Check uttering is when a person tries to use a check that they know is forged.

Check uttering and check forgery are the same crime in Virginia. Va. Code 18.2-170 outlaws the forgery or uttering of bank notes, coins and checks.

The penalty for forgery or uttering checks is the same. Both are class 4 felonies regardless of the value or the check forged or uttered.

Check forgery or uttering comes with two to ten years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for check forgery or uttering stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction for check forgery or uttering can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. Conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

Possession of Forged Checks

Possessing forged checks is a serious crime if the person possession the forged checks with the intent to utter them or to give them to someone else who will then utter them.

Possessing ten or more forged checks is a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony comes with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

Possessing less than ten forged checks is a class 3 misdemeanor. Class 3 misdemeanors are criminal convictions that come with no jail time but up to $500 in fines.

An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

Conviction for possessing a forged check stays on your permanent criminal record forever regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction for possession of forged checks will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

If you have been charged with a check crime in Northern Virginia call Nichols & Green pllc for a free consultation (703) 383-9222

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