Passing a bad check may not seem like a serious crime, but in Missouri, it is considered fraud, and depending on the details, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a serious felony. If you are charged with check fraud, contact a Jefferson County check fraud attorney at once.
What are your rights if you are charged with check fraud in Missouri? What can happen if you are convicted? How will you and your attorney fight a check fraud charge? If you’ll keep reading this brief introduction to check fraud in Missouri, these questions will be answered below.
What Is Check Fraud?
What constitutes check fraud in Missouri? Someone commits check fraud when he or she writes or passes a check while knowing that it cannot be paid by the drawee or that there is no such drawee. If the issuer doesn’t have an account with the drawee, fraud may be charged immediately.
If the issuer has an account with the drawee, the issuer may receive a notice from county law enforcement authorities that payment must be made within ten days. Sending a notice protects those who are simply forgetful or have a temporary cash-flow problem but no intent to defraud.
Check fraud in the State of Missouri also includes altering the writing on a check or constructing a fake check as well as intentionally writing bad checks to merchants and creditors.
When Is Check Fraud a Felony? When Is It a Misdemeanor?
Failure to pay a bad check within ten days after receiving the notice in writing that it has not been honored by the drawee is considered prima facie evidence of the intent to defraud – that is, it is considered enough evidence to convict.
Check fraud in Missouri is a Class A misdemeanor charge when the check’s amount was for less than $750. Check fraud is a Class E felony charge when the amount of the check (or the total for multiple checks within a ten-day period) is for $750 or more.
Check fraud is also a Class E felony charge if the check was drawn on a closed or non-existent account. Check forgery – forging another person’s name on a check – is a Class D felony.
A check fraud conviction also creates a criminal record that can make finding work or housing difficult. If you hold a professional license, a conviction may trigger disciplinary action by your licensing board. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction may lead to a deportation proceeding.
Is It Legal to Write a Post-Dated Check?
There is no law in the State of Missouri against writing a post-dated check unless the check bounces when the recipient attempts to deposit or cash it on or after the date written on the check.
Someone who writes a postdated check that bounces will not be convicted of check fraud unless a prosecutor can prove that the check was written with the intent to defraud the recipient or with the knowledge that the check would not be honored when the date on the check arrived.
What Is the Central Question in Most Check Fraud Cases?
In most check fraud cases, the intent of the person who wrote the check is the central question. Did that person have a criminal intent to defraud, or was the bad check written simply out of forgetfulness or absent-mindedness?
If you are prosecuted for check fraud in Missouri, a Jefferson County check fraud attorney’s job will be to demonstrate to the court that you acted in good faith, you simply made a mistake, and you had no criminal intent.
The prosecutor in these cases often has the more difficult legal task – proving to the jurors “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant wrote a bad check and did so with criminal intent to defraud the recipient.
However, in some bad check cases, a prosecutor may have genuine evidence of criminal intent. If the defendant told a witness – or bragged on social media – that he or she wrote a bad check meant to defraud the recipient, that admission may be enough to win a check fraud conviction.
If You Are Placed Under Arrest
If you are placed under arrest and charged with check fraud or check forgery in Jefferson County or anywhere in the greater St. Louis area, you must exercise your legal rights. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to have your attorney present during any questioning.
Do not try to explain to the police why you wrote a bad check. Anything you say could end up being used against you.
Be cooperative, friendly, and compliant, but politely insist on your legal rights. Simply say, “I would prefer not to answer questions until my attorney can be present.” Then say no more, but contact a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney at the first opportunity you have.
How Will Your Attorney Handle Your Check Fraud Case?
Your Jefferson County check fraud lawyer will investigate a check fraud or check forgery charge and will find any weaknesses or flaws in the state’s case against you. In most cases, your defense lawyer will then seek to have the charge against you dropped or dismissed.
If the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, your attorney will defend you aggressively and effectively in the courtroom, tell the jurors what happened, and explain to the jurors why they should find you not guilty – unless the evidence is overwhelming and your conviction is certain.
Don’t Try to Be Your Own Attorney
If the state’s evidence against you is conclusive, your defense attorney may be able to negotiate an acceptable plea bargain on your behalf. In a typical plea deal, the defendant enters a guilty plea to a lesser charge and agrees to serve a reduced or alternative sentence.
You are more likely to be offered a plea deal if it is your first offense. However, you must not try to represent yourself or to act as your own attorney. In the 21st century, the law in our state is too complex, and too much will be at stake. Any mistake could have severe, lasting consequences.
If you are charged with check fraud, check forgery, or with any other fraud or forgery charge or financial crime in Jefferson County or in the greater St. Louis area, obtain the advice and representation of a Jefferson County check fraud lawyer as quickly as possible.