In New Jersey, if a person writes a check without the funds in his or her bank account to cover the amount, it is known as a bad check or check fraud. While in many instances, the failure to have enough money in one’s bank account could be due to a mistake in accounting, it can be viewed as a crime if the person who drafted the check did so knowing it would not be honored by his or her bank. If the check is for more than $200, the person will be charged with an indictable crime.
There are serious consequences that accompany an arrest and prosecution for check fraud under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5. If these charges are filed, they can become an extended problem for the person accused of the crime with fines, jail time and a blot on his or her record that won’t go away.
What’s Required for a Check Fraud Conviction?
For a person to be charged with writing a bad check in New Jersey, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts: the person to whom the check was written attempted to deposit or cash it within 46 days after it was written; the bank refused to honor the check due to lack of funds; the accused individual must be given notice that the check was not cashed and he or she will receive ten days to write a good check; if the check is not paid within those ten days, it is assumed that the individual knew the check would not be honored when it was originally written.
Different Degrees of Check Fraud
When a bad check is written for an amount less than $200, it is a disorderly persons offense. A person found guilty of this charge can receive as much as six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Once the amount surpasses $200, check fraud is an indictable criminal offense and the penalties grow harsher. A fourth degree charge of check fraud requires the check be made in the amount of more than $200 but less than $1,000. The fine for this conviction can be as much as $10,000 with 18 months in jail. If the check was for between $1,000 and $75,000, the crime is in the third degree and the defendant faces a fine of $15,000 and up to five years in jail. If the check is issued for $75,000 or more, it is a second degree crime with a penalty of possibly ten years in jail and $150,000 in fines.
Speak to a Criminal Lawyer About Your Check Fraud Charge
If you have been charged with writing a bad check in Monmouth County or Ocean County, it’s imperative to speak to an experienced attorney. With the significant fines and penalties for the crime and various levels of charges, speaking to a defense lawyer is the smart decision to protect one’s interests and attempt to avoid hefty fines and even jail time. If you have been charged with check fraud in Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Lakehurst or any other nearby town in New Jersey, Villani & DeLuca can help you. Call today for a free consultation.