Using bad checks is a larceny criminal offense in Virginia. The type of criminal charge can depend on the value of theft and a conviction may result in jail time and fines. Unfortunately, some people who accidentally wrote a bad check can face serious criminal charges. If you were accused of writing bad checks in Charlottesville, Virginia, contact an experienced attorney to fight for your rights.
Issuing Bad Checks in Virginia
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-181, issuing bad checks is a type of larceny or theft crime. According to the statute:
“Any person who, with intent to defraud, shall make or draw or utter or deliver any check, draft, or order for the payment of money, upon any bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, knowing, at the time of such making, drawing, uttering or delivering, that the maker or drawer has not sufficient funds in, or credit with, such bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, for the payment of such check, draft or order, although no express representation is made in reference thereto, shall be guilty of larceny.”
An individual does not need to make an express representation that they are intending to defraud another. The intent to defraud can be implied through the individual's actions or shown through the totality of the circumstances.
Penalties for Issuing Bad Checks
The penalties for writing a bad check is based on the value of theft or fraud. Generally, issuing bad checks involving a value of less than $500 is a Class 1 misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for a bad check larceny conviction includes up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Check fraud involving a value of $500 or more may be punishable as a Class 6 felony. A felony conviction can include between one and five years in prison. However, the court can also punish a Class 6 felony conviction by jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.
In addition, the defendant may also be required to pay restitution to the victims.
Multiple Bad Check Charges
If the defendant issued multiple bad checks, each bad check may be charged as a separate offense. Multiple offenses may also result in the judge or jury handing down a more serious sentence.
In many cases, the prosecutor will use multiple offenses as a way to motivate the defendant to plead guilty in exchange for dropping some of the charges or requesting a lighter sentence. However, it is important to understand your rights before agreeing to plead guilty to criminal charges. Talk to your Virginia criminal defense lawyer about your rights, defenses, and options for challenging criminal charges.
Bad Check Defenses in Virginia
Just because you wrote a bad check does not necessarily mean you should be convicted of a crime. There are a number of possible legal defenses to challenge the prosecutor's case. Possible defenses may include:
- Defendant did not know the account had insufficient funds, depending on the circumstances,
- The check was altered by the individual cashing the check to reflect a greater amount,
- Defendant did not issue the check,
- Defendant did not intend to defraud, or
- The checks were stolen and used by another.
Charlottesville Check Fraud Lawyer
Even as a misdemeanor, a conviction can leave you with a criminal record. There are ways to challenge the conviction and keep your record clean and stay out of jail. If you have been accused of issuing bad checks or other fraud crimes in Charlottesville, contact me today for a free consultation.