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New Jersey Bad Check Fraud

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It happens every day in New Jersey. Someone writes a check on an account that lacks the funds to cover it.

Sometimes, those checks are not honored, which is referred to as check bouncing. Checks bounce for a number of reasons. Funds may not come into the account that were meant to cover the check, or a payment may be taken out of the account when it was not supposed to.

Whatever the reason for a check bouncing, the fact remains that it is a crime. Even when a check bounced due to an honest mistake, the law is unlikely to look any kinder on the person who bounced it.

Writing or cashing a bad check can be considered bad check fraud in New Jersey. It is an offense that carries serious consequences for individuals who are convicted. Anyone charged with writing a bad check should speak to a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who can help with their case.

What Is Bad Check Fraud?

Bad check fraud occurs when a person writes or issues a bad check or other similar money order to secure the payment of funds while knowing that the check will not be honored by the bank or drawee.

When this occurs, the person who wrote or issued the bad check can be charged and convicted of writing or passing a bad check. In New Jersey, a person is presumed to have known that a bad check would not clear if:

  • The person who issued the check did not have a checking account with the financial institution at the time the check was issued or written, or
  • The check was refused by the financial institution due to a lack of funds, or
  • A deposit was made for collection, along with failing to make good on the check within 10 days after the check was refused from the financial institution.

When the above situations do not apply, it is presumed that the person did not know that the check would not be honored. The burden of proof then rests with the prosecutor and they must establish that the accused had such knowledge.

What Are the Penalties for Check Fraud in New Jersey?

Man writing checks for payment.Bad checks that are valued at less than $200 are considered a disorderly persons offense. Although this is not the most serious charge in New Jersey, the penalty still includes up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Offenses for bad checks that are valued between $200 and $1,000 are considered a fourth-degree crime, or a felony. New Jersey’s sentencing guidelines show that the penalty for this type of crime is up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Crimes that involve a bad check valued between $1,000 and $75,000 are considered third-degree offenses, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.

Bad checks that are valued over $75,000 are second-degree offenses that carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000.

What Are Possible Defenses to Fight a Check Fraud Charge?

Being charged with bad check fraud is a frightening situation, but it is important that anyone accused of this offense remembers that there could be defenses available. These may include:

  • The check was cashed more than 30 days after it was written.
  • The check did not include the necessary signatures.
  • A hold was placed on the check but the bank did not honor that hold.
  • A notice was not issued about the bad check, or the issuer did not receive the notice.
  • The check was post-dated but the check was cashed or deposited prior to the postmarked date.

Also, when the person who issued the bad check did not know the check would not be honored, the prosecution carries the burden of proof to show that the person knew the check was bad.

Can a Bad Check Charge Be Expunged from Your Record?

Cashier receiving check for payment.Even when a person is convicted of bad check fraud, there is hope. Records for bad check fraud can be expunged from a person’s criminal record if they are otherwise eligible.

The eligibility requirements include having five or fewer convictions for disorderly persons, or no more than one felony and three disorderly persons convictions. When a person is eligible for their record to be expunged, they must wait at least five years after they have completed their sentencing and repayment of any fines.

In the instance that a person has a felony on their record, the waiting time for expungement is extended to six years. In either case, a person cannot be convicted of any other offenses. After a person successfully has their record expunged, the record will not show up in most background checks, and they can lawfully tell employers and others that they have never been convicted of a crime.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?

Although many people may think that bad check fraud is a minor crime, New Jersey law does not look at it that way. This offense carries very serious penalties, even for the lowest level of the offense.

It is crucial to work with a criminal defense lawyer who understands the possible defenses that can be used, and how to use them effectively. A lawyer will also understand how to challenge the prosecution’s arguments to prove that a person is innocent. Lastly, a criminal defense lawyer will also understand how to expunge the conviction from a person’s record so it does not follow them around for the rest of their life.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Check Fraud Defense Lawyer

At The Law Office of Jason A. Volet, we know how to prove your innocence and, if necessary, walk you through the steps of expunging your record so it does not follow you around for the rest of your life.

 

When you are facing charges, do not do it alone. Contact us online now to schedule a free case evaluation with our attorney.

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