Will I Get in Trouble if My Check Bounces?

Drawing the Line Between a Mistake and Deposit Account Fraud

Whether due to a miscalculation in your checkbook or a failure to review the balance in your account, you may, at some point, end up writing a check for more money than you have available. If you have insufficient funds to cover the amount on the check, your check will be denied, or “bounce.” Under Georgia code, the payer may even be committing check fraud.

Luckily, the law understands that mistakes can happen. As such, individuals are given an opportunity to correct the issue. If they fail to correct their mistake and provide the owed amount, however, they could be prosecuted.

When Someone Can Be Charged with Deposit Account Fraud

Not every bad check will result in a criminal conviction. Rather, to be charged with deposit account fraud, a few things must happen:

  • The check must be made for present consideration, or, in other words, not be postdated
  • The payee must deposit the check within 30 days
  • The payee must send a written notice informing the payer that it bounced by certified mail within 90 days

If you do not pay within 10 days of receiving the notice, the payee can go through the judicial system to retrieve their payment.

Overall, bad checks are only criminal when the payer wrote the check with the knowledge that they did not have sufficient funds to honor the payment.

Penalties for Bounced Checks

The penalty for writing a bad check in Georgia depends on the amount the check was written for. If the check was made for less than $500, the crime is considered a misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

However, if the check was made for more than $500, or if the check was made from an out-of-state bank, the crime is a felony. A felony offense is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in jail.

How to Avoid Having Your Checks Bounce

There are some preventative steps you could take to keep your finances organized and avoid a bounced check. You could:

  • Download your bank’s mobile app to stay informed about how much money you have available to you
  • Keep a cushion of money in your account
  • Note recurring expenses while tracking your monthly spending
  • Sign up for an overdraft line of credit
  • Use your savings account as protection if your bank allows it

If you are facing an accusation of deposit account fraud, our attorneys can help. Call us today at (770) 285-1673 for more information.

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