While there are differences among the states as to how bad checks are viewed (whether
a misdemeanor or a felony) and the remedies available to holders of the bad check
against the drawer, there are several general factors that run through the majority of
state laws:

In all states the maker of a check, who tenders a check knowing there is insufficient
funds or credit behind the check may be guilty of a crime and may be subject to civil
penalties.

In the majority of states the crime is treated as a misdemeanor. In states that make a
distinction regarding a felony or misdemeanor, the amount of the check usually
determines if the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. In several states the law provides
for fines and or imprisonment, but does not specify if the crime is misdemeanor or felony.

In some states there is a criminal offense only when the bad check is given in exchange
for property or for a present consideration. In other states it is a criminal offense to issue
a bad check with intent to defraud or with knowledge of insufficient funds.
The intent to defraud and knowledge of insufficient funds is required to be present by
most states' bad check laws. The intent to defraud is sufficient. It is not necessary for the
payee to have actually been defrauded.

In most states statutory provisions provide that it is prima facie evidence of insufficient
funds (or of intent to defraud) if: (a) the check was not paid by the drawee (bank) on
presentation for payment and (b) the drawer did not pay the check within a specified
number of days after written notice to the drawer of dishonor of the check. The
prescribed numbers of days for the various states are:

Alabama - 10 Days
Alaska - 15 Days
Arizona - 12 Days
Arkansas - 10 Days
California - 30 Days
Colorado - 15 Days
Connecticut - 30 Days
Delaware - 10 Days
District of Columbia - 5 Days
Florida - 7 Days
Georgia - 10 Days
Hawaii - 10 Days
Idaho - 10 Days
Illinois - 30 Days
Indiana - 30 Days
Iowa - 30 Days
Kansas - 14 Days
Kentucky - 10 Days
Louisiana - 15 Days
Maine - 10 Days
Maryland - 10 Days
Massachusetts - 2 Days
Michigan - 30 Days
Minnesota - 5 Days
Mississippi - 15 days
Missouri - 10 Days
Montana - 5 Days
Nebraska - 10 Days
Nevada - 5 Days
New Hampshire - 10 Days
New Jersey - 35 Days
New Mexico - 10 Days
New York - 30 Days
North Carolina - 30 Days
North Dakota - 10 Days
Ohio - 30 Days
Oklahoma - 5 Days
Oregon - 10 Days
Pennsylvania - 10 Days
Rhode Island - 7 Days
South Carolina - 30 Days
South Dakota - 30 Days
Tennessee - 10 Days
Texas - 10 Days
Utah - 15 Days
Vermont - 10 Days
Virginia - 30 Days
Washington - 15 Days
West Virginia - 10 Days
Wisconsin - 5 Days
Wyoming - 5 Days


In many states the criminal provisions regarding bad checks do not apply to post-dated
checks.  Because post-dated checks are a promise to pay in the future, they are not
technically viewed as checks.  It has generally been held that post-dated checks are not
within the scope of most states' bad check laws.  It is generally held that the giving of a
bad check in payment of a preexisting debt does not fall within the purview of most
states' bad check laws. Since the debt is preexisting the maker of the check did not
deprive the payee of any right; procure anything of value from the payee or wrongfully
appropriate anything belonging to the payee.

On paper, the legal consequences for the maker of a bad check are usually quite
severe, however, as a practical matter the holder of a bad check may find it difficult to
put into effect available remedies.  In most localities it is necessary to file a complaint
with the appropriate criminal justice officer such as a sheriff or district attorney to initiate
criminal legal action. In general, most of these criminal justice officers are just too busy
with other more serious crimes against the community. Therefore, the filing of a bad
check criminal action will usually not be promptly acted upon, except in cases involving
significant amounts of money.  However, as a credit grantor you can effectively deal with
the majority of routine bad check situations encountered by putting into practice the
following procedures:

Instruct your bank to redeposit any checks returned for insufficient or uncollected funds.
This procedure will effectively address any clerical errors the check's maker may have
made regarding their bank account balance.

On checks still unpaid after redepositing or returned because payment was stopped, you
should write to the maker advising them of the non-payment, provide details of the check
and request in addition to the amount of the check, any appropriate service charges.
It is suggested that the letter be sent certified mail with a return receipt requested.
However, on small balance bad checks the letter may be sent regular mail.

If the maker of a bad check does not respond to your notice and fails to make the check
good, you should consider contacting an attorney in the locale/state where the bad
check writer is domiciled.  They will be able to offer you assistance with the collection of
the bad check and put you in touch with legal counsel if you desire to discuss legal
remedies that may be available to you.
Bad Check Laws Part 2
Bad Check Laws - Part 1
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