Checks that cannot be honored because of insufficient fund in the account on which the instrument was drawn are commonly referred to as worthless checks in Florida. Writing checks without the necessary funds to cover the payment is a common occurrence across the nation, and some other common terms for bad checks include:
- Bogus checks;
- Bounced checks;
- Insufficient checks;
- Non-sufficient funds or NSF checks; or
- Rubber checks.
Passing a bad check in Florida can result in criminal and civil penalties. In order for an alleged offender to be convicted of giving a worthless check, however, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged offender knew there were insufficient funds in his or her account to cover the amount of the check that was written.Worthless Checks Lawyer in Broward County, Florida
Were you charged with allegedly writing a bad check in South Florida? You will want to contact The Hoffman Firm for help achieving the most favorable possible resolution to your case.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman represents clients accused of white collar crimes throughout Broward County, including Davie, Pembroke Pines, Margate, Miramar, Pompano Beach, and several other nearby areas. He can review your case and discuss all of your legal options as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Overview of Worthless Checks in Fort Lauderdale
- How can a person be convicted of writing a bad check?
- What are the criminal and civil consequences of bouncing a check?
- Where can I find more information about bad checks in Broward County?
Worthless Check Charges in Florida
Florida Statute § 832.05 makes it illegal “for any person, firm, or corporation to draw, make, utter, issue, or deliver to another party any check, draft, or other written order on any bank or depository, or to use a debit card, for the payment of money or its equivalent, knowing at the time of the drawing, making, uttering, issuing, or delivering such check or draft, or at the time of using such debit card, that the maker or drawer thereof has not sufficient funds on deposit in or credit with such bank or depository with which to pay the same on presentation.”
Under Chapter 17.4 of the Florida Jury Instructions, a prosecutor must prove the six following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict an alleged offender of obtaining property or services in return for worthless checks, drafts, or debit card orders:
- The alleged offender drew, made, uttered, issued, or delivered a check, draft, or debit card order;
- The alleged offender did so to obtain services, goods, wares, or some other thing of value alleged;
- The services, goods, wares, or some other thing of value alleged had some monetary value;
- When the alleged offender did so, there was not sufficient money on deposit in the bank to pay the check, draft, or debit card order;
- The alleged offender knew when the check, draft, or debit card order was written there was not sufficient money on deposit with the bank; and
- The alleged offender knew there was no arrangement or understanding with the bank for the payment of the check when it was presented.
Broward County Penalties for Worthless Checks
When an alleged offender is accused of writing a bad check, the possible criminal penalties will depend on the amount of the check involved. Under Florida Statute § 832.05(2)(b), an alleged offender can face the following sentences for alleged worthless check violations:
- If the check, draft, other written order, or debit card order is for an amount less than $150 or its equivalent, the alleged offense is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000; or
- If the check, draft, other written order, or debit card order is in the amount of $150, or its equivalent, or more, the alleged offense is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.
Florida Statute § 68.065 also establishes civil penalties for alleged offenders who write worthless checks. Under this statute, an alleged offender who fails to pay the amount owed—in cash—within 30 days of receiving a written demand for the owed amount can become liable for triple the amount owed as well as courts costs and reasonable attorney fees.
Florida Worthless Check Resources
Broward County | Bad Check Restitution Program — In accordance with Florida Statute § 832.08, the Broward County established a Bad Check Restitution Program that allows some alleged offenders to avoid criminal prosecution by attending a mandatory intervention class and making full restitution to the alleged victim. Under this program, an alleged victim will attempt to make contact with an alleged offender and send a statutory notice, if necessary. The alleged offender has 15 days to remit payment, otherwise the alleged victim can contact the Bad Check Restitution Program to file a report. Visit this website to learn more about which checks are eligible for participation in the program.
Office of the State Attorney
Broward County Judicial Complex
201 Southeast 6th Street, Suite 655
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
How to Protect Yourself: Worthless Bank Checks — Not all returned checks are considered worthless checks in Florida, and you can learn more about the differences between designations on this section of the Attorney General’s website. Checks returned “NSF” (non-sufficient funds), “Account Not Found” or “NSF Unless Otherwise Indicated are subject to prosecution, but checks stamped “Refer To Maker” or “Uncollected Funds” may require additional investigation. Checks stamped “Stop Payment” may be subject to criminal prosecution, but are commonly resolved in small claims court civil suits while checks returned “Unauthorized Drawer’s Signature(s)” should be presented to the Sheriff’s Office or local authorities for investigations.
If you have been charged with allegedly writing a rubber check in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation for help getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. The Hoffman Firm fights to get the most favorable outcomes for clients in Plantation, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Cooper City, and surrounding communities in Broward County.
Evan A. Hoffman is a skilled criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who has experience handling these types of cases on the other side of the aisle as a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. You can have him evaluate your case during a free, confidential consultation when you call (954) 524-4474 or fill out an online contact form today.