Monday, December 28, 2009

'I THOUGHT I WOULD HAVE THE MONEY": WHEN YOU BOUNCE A CHECK DUE TO INSUFFICIENT FUNDS

You have never been very good about managing money, but somehow you have always put enough money in your checking account in time for your checks to clear. Until now. You just wrote some checks, figuring you’d have the money in the bank before they went through, but somehow it just didn’t happen. Now you are being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor or possibly even a Class 4 Felony for issuing bad checks.

In Illinois, you may be guilty of a deceptive practice if you issue a check exceeding $150.00 in payment for credit, property, labor or services, knowing that you have insufficient funds, and if you failed to make the check good within seven days of receiving actual notice that your check has bounced. You are presumed to have the necessary intent to defraud if your check bounces two times at least seven days apart, or if you didn’t have enough funds to cover your check when the check was delivered. When you are hit with a Class A Misdemeanor, you face a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A Class 4 Felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in state prison and a larger fine. Plus, the person who received the check can still sue you in civil court.

What can you do? First and foremost, do not make any statements to anyone, especially police. Any attempt to explain or justify your actions may be used against you and jeopardize your defense. What sounds like a reasonable excuse to you may only dig you in deeper with police.

Once at court, an experienced attorney can help you weigh your options. Under some circumstances, you may be able to prove that you lacked the intent required under the statute. Maybe someone bounced a check to you putting your own account in the hole.

But what if you really knew your checks would bounce? An attorney can still help you negotiate a plea agreement. In some cases, a number of individual counts may be dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to one of the charges. In any event, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and an attorney can help assess whether the state has enough evidence to do so.

In this job market, a deceptive practices charge on your record could cost you a lot more than a fine or some jail time. You might lose a great job opportunity as well. It is imperative that you explore your options with a qualified attorney. If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

No comments: