PITTSBURGH BAD CHECKS LAWYER

HOW IS THE CRIME OF BAD CHECKS DEFINED IN PENNSYLVANIA?

Section 4105 of the Crimes Code penalizes any person who passes a “check or similar sight order for the payment of money” knowing that it will not be honored.

Given the requirement that the accused “knows” their check will not be honored, Section 4105 is not meant to criminalize the honest yet mistaken issuer of a check that bounces for insufficient funds.

The application of Section 4105, and the reach of Pennsylvania to prosecute violations of this section, does not depend on the offense occurring within Pennsylvania itself. Pennsylvania authorities may prosecute those accused of this crime when “the drawee” (that is the bank or other financial institution) is located in Pennsylvania.

HOW CAN THE PROSECUTION PROVE THIS CRIME?

Within Section 4105 there’s a presumption that is beneficial to the prosecution in proving that the accused knew they were passing a bad check. The presumption is phrased like this:

  1. An issuer is presumed to know that the check or order (other than a post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:
    1. payment was refused because the issuer had no such account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued; or
    2. payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, upon presentation within 30 days after issue, and the issuer failed to make good within ten days after receiving notice of that refusal.

Notice of refusal may be given to the issuer orally or in writing by any person. Proof that notice was sent by registered or certified mail, regardless of whether a receipt was requested or returned, to the address printed on the check or, if none, then to the issuer’s last known address, shall raise a presumption that the notice was received.

Additionally, a check or order stamped “NSF” or “insufficient funds” raises a presumption that payment was refused for lack of funds. And a check or order stamped “account closed” or “no such account” or “counterfeit” raises a presumption that payment was refused because the issuer did not have an account with the bank when the check was issued.

HOW SERIOUS IS PASSING BAD CHECKS?

A conviction for the crime of bad checks can range from a summary offense to a third-degree felony depending upon the circumstances as outlined in Section 4105(b).

Summary offense if the check or order is less than $200

Third-degree misdemeanor if the check or order is $200 or more but less than $500.

Second-degree misdemeanor if the check or order is $500 or more but less than $1,000.

First-degree misdemeanor if the check or order is $1,000 or more but less than $75,000, or if the offense is a third or subsequent offense “within a five-year period” (amount of check and grading of prior offenses is irrelevant)

Third-degree felony if the check or order is $75,000 or more

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?

A prosecution forbad checks must be commenced within two years after it is committed.

 

If you or a loved one is charged with bad checks, call Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, Ryan H. James, who has tried and argued these cases with successful results.  Attorney James can be personally reached at 412-977-1827, or by e-mail at ryan@rhjameslaw.com