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What is Considered A Bad Check? Can I Be Charged with a Crime?

Everyone who has ever bounced a check is not charged with a crime, and bouncing a check, standing alone, is not criminal. Honest mistakes happen. It's probably a safe bet that everyone with a checking account has likely bounced a check, or come close. That does not mean criminal activity occurred. There are civil remedies available when someone does not make good on a bad check. But the law can punish by criminal sanction the check writer as well. 

Writing a check with the knowledge and intent that it will be dishonored is criminal. 

Writing a bad check can come in different varieties. The law deems a check  “bad” if there are insufficient funds in an account, and this occurs when: 

  • there are not enough funds to cover the check
  • if that account is closed 
  • there are no funds
  • the check is drawn on account that does not exist 

It is a crime to issue a check with knowledge of insufficient funds, or that the check will be dishonored. There are other circumstances under which a bad check can land you in some trouble with the authorities well. 

   -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 1/15/20. 

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