The Real Cost of Passing a Bad Check
Writing a check with insufficient funds in your bank account can happen to anyone. However, when you intentionally write a check that you know will bounce, you may face serious consequences in Pennsylvania.
The real costs of passing a bad check expand far beyond simply repaying the person or company whom you attempted to defraud. You could also have legal fees, court costs, criminal fines, and other expenses because of the bad check.
If you find yourself facing criminal penalties for passing a bad check in Pittsburgh, your best option is to consult an experienced defense attorney.
What Is a Bad Check?
According to Pennsylvania law, a bad check is any check or similar sight order for payment not honored by the drawee – your bank, credit union, or other financial institution. If you know that a check will not be honored by your bank and you write it anyway, you can be held liable for writing a bad check.
The court assumes that you are passing a bad check if:
- You did not have an account with the bank at the time you wrote the check
- You receive a returned check stamped “account closed,” “no such account,” or “counterfeit.”
- You receive notice of a bad check from your bank but failed to make good on payment within 10 days of receiving notice
- You receive a returned check stamped with “NSF” or “insufficient funds.”
Bad Checks Carry a High Cost
Reimbursement to Payee
When a bad check catches up with you, you will pay more than what you originally owed. However, you still need to reimburse the payee – the person or party who got the bad check – plus interest and service charges to the payee’s bank or financial institution.
You may be worried that legal fees will only add to your costs in a bad check case. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side may be able to negotiate your charges or even get them dismissed. This saves you significant money in the long run.
Criminal Record & Employment
Employers typically run a background check, especially if you are applying for a high-paying job. It might be difficult to get a good job when potential employers see that you were convicted for writing a bad check. They may be reluctant to trust you, especially if the job involves handling money. A criminal record might severely limit your ability to land a job.
Criminal Penalties & Fines for Passing Bad Checks
When you knowingly pass a bad check, you could pay more than a fee to your bank. You are facing jail time, fines, and even prison as a convicted felon. The level of penalty that you face depends on the amount of the check that you fraudulently write.
- Checks for less than $200 – This is a summary offense, and you may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.
- Checks between $200 and $1,000 – This is a third-degree misdemeanor, and you may be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Checks between $1,000 and $75,000 – This is a first-degree misdemeanor, and you may be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Checks for more than $75,000 – This is a third-degree felony, and you may face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Suppose you are convicted of more than one bad check offense or subsequent offenses within five years, regardless of the check amount. In that case, you may be charged with a third-degree felony with the corresponding penalties mentioned above.
Bad Check Charges? We Can Help
Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators who may be able to help you avoid conviction, imprisonment, and costly fees.
If you were arrested for passing a bad check, we could help. We want to hear your story, examine your case, and help you make the best choice for your future.
What is a White Collar Crime?
The term “white-collar crime” conjures up images of corporate sharks in fancy suits as they empty the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims. While it makes for great TV, there’s little truth to it. Someone accused of a white-collar crime is more likely an average person, usually seeking gain through fraud.
These charges can happen to anyone with access to someone else’s finances. This can mean accountants, bookkeepers, financial planners, or someone in charge of handing out company funds. Whatever the case, allegations are serious and convictions can ruin careers and lives.
Your situation may seem grim if you’ve been arrested on white-collar charges, but it’s important to remember that you have rights and these cases require a lot of technical evidence. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Plus, there may be defenses and strategies available. Because of the complicated nature of white-collar cases, it’s wise to rely on an experienced criminal fraud defense attorney.
White Collar Crimes – An Overview
White-collar crimes usually focus on financial gain, often through nonviolent, deceitful methods. They typically involve some element of misrepresentation or other misconduct as part of an overall scheme to defraud.
Though the specifics will vary based on the exact offense, the elements that a prosecutor must prove are:
- The accused made a material statement or provided information to another person, knowing it was false;
- Fraudulent statement or information was intended to persuade a victim to give over something of value, such as money, contractual rights, assets, or other items;
- Victim relied on the statement in handing over valuables; and,
- That person would never have done so, knowing the truth of the matter.
Federal White Collar Crimes
By their nature, white-collar offenses often qualify as federal crimes because the misconduct tends to cross state lines through the use of telecommunications networks. By making a phone call, sending an email, faxing documents, or accessing the internet, the accused individual may face federal sentencing for a conviction.
The fines, jail time, and other punishments are much more severe as compared to the laws of most US states. Depending on the specific crime, prior criminal history, number of victims, and other factors listed in the federal sentencing guidelines, punishment may include:
- Fines ranging from $100,000 and up, on a per count basis;
- Imprisonment of up to 30 years or more; and,
- Restitution, which means reimbursing victims for their losses, plus interest.
Types of White Collar Crimes
There are numerous scheme to defraud that would be considered white-collar, usually classified by the type of victim:
Government: Individuals may make false statements in dealing with federal, state, or local government bodies, potentially leading to charges for bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, health care fraud, and others.
Bank and Financial Institutions: Many crimes in the financial sector include check kiting, money laundering, mortgage fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting.
Insurance Companies: It’s against the law to make false statements to home, auto, business, or other insurers in two contexts:
- Executing documents to purchase a policy; and,
- Making a claim for losses in connection with policy coverage.
Corporations: The most common white-collar crimes in the corporate world are insider trading and embezzlement, where an individual having legal custody of someone else’s property converts it to their own use. An example would be an employer entrusting an employee to deposit some petty cash, but the worker pockets the funds instead.
Private Individuals: Fraud crimes in this category may include identity theft, credit card fraud, bribery, extortion, and Ponzi or pyramid schemes.
Get Legal Help ASAP
White-collar offenses encompass a wide range of activities, and the sentences are harsh. Under the circumstances, you need skilled legal representation to explore all potential strategies for fighting the allegations. With a contact a fraud defense lawyer on your side, it may be possible to obtain a favorable outcome.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, we are highly experienced in the technical aspects of these cases and have a long track record of success defending white-collar charges in and around Pittsburgh, PA. Know what you’re up against and how to effectively deal with it.
What is Theft by Unlawful Taking?
Under Pennsylvania law, theft by unlawful taking is a criminal offense that is defined based on the kind of property involved. The manner in which the theft was committed and the value of the property allegedly stolen influences the kind of charges that the state can pursue, and the potential penalties may include lengthy prison terms and harsh fines. A theft charge is one of the most common offenses prosecuted by law enforcement and should not be taken lightly.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with theft in the Pittsburgh area, you need an experienced criminal attorney who will take the time to examine the facts of your case and explain your legal options. Don’t hesitate to call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC’s Pittsburgh theft attorneys at (412) 281-2146 for assistance today.
Two Forms of Theft
Under Pennsylvania statute, theft by unlawful taking may either be theft of movable property or theft of immovable property.
- When the offense involves movable property, a person is guilty of theft if they unlawfully take, or exercises unlawful control over, another person’s movable property with the intent to deprive them of the property. The statute defines movable property as property the location of which can be changed, including items that are growing on, affixed to, or found in land. For example, shoplifting in a store would be considered as theft of movable property.
- If the offense involves immovable property, a person is guilty of theft by unlawfully transferring or exercising unlawful control over immovable property owned by others, or any interest in that property, with the intent to benefit themselves or a third party. Immovable property includes, for example, a tangible interest in real estate, such as a house or land.
Grading of Theft Offenses and Penalties
Theft offenses are graded in Pennsylvania largely based on the value of the property involved or when the offense is committed.
- Theft is considered a third-degree misdemeanor if the property involved was less than $50, and may result in up to a one-year jail term and a fine not exceeding $2,500. It is a second-degree misdemeanor if the amount involved was at least $50 but less than $200. If convicted, this may result in up to two years of jail time and up to a $5,000 fine. Otherwise, the theft will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor with a possible jail term of five years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- The charge will be a third-degree felony if it involves property valued at more than $2,000, or if the property is a car, motorcycle, boat, or other vehicle. The possible sentence upon conviction is up to seven years of prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
- If the crime was committed during a man-made or natural disaster, or the property stolen is a firearm or any amount of anhydrous ammonia, the charge will be a second-degree felony which may carry a prison term of up to 10 years and up to a $25,000 fine.
- If the crime involves an amount of $500,000 or more, then it is a first-degree felony. This is the most serious form of theft, and may carry a prison term of up to 20 years and a fine not exceeding $25,000.
Defending Against a Charge of Theft by Unlawful Taking
You should talk to an attorney right away once you discover that you’ve been charged with theft in Pennsylvania. You will need an experienced and compassionate advocate by your side so you can make the best possible decisions about your case and how to move forward.
Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC’s Pittsburgh theft attorneys at (412) 281-2146 for a free, initial consultation today so we can help you craft an effective defense to the charges against you. Our attorneys have years of combined experience in criminal defense that they will use to help you reach a good resolution to your case.