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Worthless Checks Criminal Defense Attorney
Miami White Collar Crime Lawyer, Serving Fort Lauderdale & Beyond
When a consumer in Florida writes a check to pay for property or services without the necessary funds to cover the payment, it is commonly referred to as a worthless check (these are also occasionally called hot checks, rubber checks, or bounced checks). When a check is returned to the payee (the party who received the payment) for insufficient funds or other account issues, the party that wrote the check could face criminal charges.
Many people who write worthless checks had absolutely no criminal intent when making their payments. In most cases, alleged offenders may have forgotten about additional account deductions or simply mismanaged their finances by honest oversight.
If you have been arrested for allegedly writing a bad check in Florida, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation as soon as possible. The Hoffman Firm can help you fight for a favorable outcome to your case with the aim of achieving the fewest possible penalties. Our Miami white collar crime attorney, Evan Hoffman, represents clients in complex criminal defense cases in Hialeah, Miami Beach, Opa-locka, South Miami, and many other areas in Miami-Dade and Broward County.
Passing a bad check in Florida can result in criminal and civil penalties. In order for an alleged offender to be convicted of giving a worthless check, however, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged offender knew there were insufficient funds in his or her account to cover the amount of the check that was written.
Chapter 17.4 of the Florida Jury Instructions outlines the elements a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict an alleged offender of obtaining property or services in return for worthless checks, drafts, or debit card orders.
- The alleged offender drew, made, uttered, issued, or delivered a check, draft, or debit card order;
- The alleged offender did so to obtain services, goods, wares, or some other thing of value alleged;
- The services, goods, wares, or some other thing of value alleged had some monetary value;
- When the alleged offender did so, there was not sufficient money on deposit in the bank to pay the check, draft, or debit card order;
- The alleged offender knew when the check, draft, or debit card order was written there was not sufficient money on deposit with the bank; and
- The alleged offender knew there was no arrangement or understanding with the bank for the payment of the check when it was presented.
The jury instructions also state that an alleged offender must be found not guilty if the defense has proven that the payee knew that the alleged offender’s funds and credit at the bank at the time the check was given were insufficient to pay the check or the payee had good reason to believe that the alleged offender’s funds and credit at the bank at the time the check was given were insufficient to pay the check.
Penalties for Worthless Checks in Florida
The penalties for writing rubber checks are established under Florida Statute § 832.05. The statute applies to paper checks as well as drafts, bills of exchange, debit card orders, and other written money orders for payment.
The criminal penalties for bouncing a check depend on the value of the check, draft, or debit card order drew, made, uttered, issued, or delivered in Florida are:
- Less Than $150: First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
- $150 or More: Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000
In addition to possible incarceration and fines, alleged offenders can also be subject to civil penalties for writing bad checks.
Under Florida Statute § 68.065, an alleged offender who fails to pay the amount owed within 30 days of receiving a written demand for the owed amount may can be liable for all of the following in addition to the amount owed:
- Treble damages (triple the amount of the actual damages);
- Courts costs; and
- Reasonable attorney fees.
How to Protect Yourself: Worthless Bank Checks
Not all returned checks are considered worthless checks in Florida, and you can learn more about the differences between designations on the Attorney General’s website. Checks returned “NSF” (non-sufficient funds), “Account Not Found” or “NSF Unless Otherwise Indicated are subject to prosecution, but checks stamped “Refer to Maker” or “Uncollected Funds” may require additional investigation. Checks stamped “Stop Payment” may be subject to criminal prosecution, but are commonly resolved in small claims court civil suits while checks returned “Unauthorized Drawer’s Signature(s)” should be presented to the Sheriff’s Office or local authorities for investigations.
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If you have been charged with allegedly writing a worthless check in Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation; The Hoffman Firm can help you work to get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. We represent clients in Plantation, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Cooper City, Fort Lauderdale, and surrounding communities in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
Client-Focused RepresentationOur Firm is dedicated to client satisfaction. We are available 24/7 to help those in need.
Decades of ExperienceAttorney Evan Hoffman has over two decades of experience fighting for the accused.
Premier Criminal Defense FirmExperienced Attorney Evan Hoffman has handled some of the most high profile and complex cases.
Proven Track RecordClient satisfaction is our top priority. At The Hoffman Firm we take great pride in our success and case victories.
Florida Former State ProsecutorAttorney Evan Hoffman has extensive knowledge of the strategies used by prosecutors throughout Florida.
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