Misdemeanor Crime of Passing Bad Checks
There is a reason that less businesses accept checks today than they did ten years ago. Passing a bad check off to a person or business may not seem like a serious crime, but it is essentially theft or fraud. Passing a bad check can carry penalties from a misdemeanor and a fee to a felony and real jail time. If you have been charged with passing a bad check it is essential to reach out to criminal defense attorney who will have your back.
Crime of Passing Bad Checks Statute
Citation: MO Rev Stat § 570.120 (2013)
- A person commits the crime of passing a bad check when:
(1) With purpose to defraud, the person makes, issues or passes a check or other similar sight order or any other form of presentment involving the transmission of account information for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be paid by the drawee, or that there is no such drawee; or
(2) The person makes, issues, or passes a check or other similar sight order or any other form of presentment involving the transmission of account information for the payment of money, knowing that there are insufficient funds in or on deposit with that account for the payment of such check, sight order, or other form of presentment involving the transmission of account information in full and all other checks, sight orders, or other forms of presentment involving the transmission of account information upon such funds then outstanding, or that there is no such account or no drawee and fails to pay the check or sight order or other form of presentment involving the transmission of account information within ten days after receiving actual notice in writing that it has not been paid because of insufficient funds or credit with the drawee or because there is no such drawee.
- As used in subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of this section, “actual notice in writing” means notice of nonpayment which is actually received by the defendant. Such notice may include the service of summons or warrant upon the defendant for the initiation of the prosecution of the check or checks which are the subject matter of the prosecution if the summons or warrant contains information of the ten-day period during which the instrument may be paid and that payment of the instrument within such ten-day period will result in dismissal of the charges. The requirement of notice shall also be satisfied for written communications which are tendered to the defendant and which the defendant refuses to accept.
- The face amounts of any bad checks passed pursuant to one course of conduct within any ten-day period may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.
- Passing bad checks is a class A misdemeanor, unless:
(1) The face amount of the check or sight order or the aggregated amounts is five hundred dollars or more; or
(2) The issuer had no account with the drawee or if there was no such drawee at the time the check or order was issued, in which cases passing bad checks is a class C felony.
- In addition to all other costs and fees allowed by law, each prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney who takes any action pursuant to the provisions of this section shall collect from the issuer in such action an administrative handling cost. The cost shall be twenty-five dollars for checks of less than one hundred dollars, and fifty dollars for checks of one hundred dollars but less than two hundred fifty dollars. For checks of two hundred fifty dollars or more an additional fee of ten percent of the face amount shall be assessed, with a maximum fee for administrative handling costs not to exceed seventy-five dollars total. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 50.525 to 50.745, the costs provided for in this subsection shall be deposited by the county treasurer into the “Administrative Handling Cost Fund”, established under section 559.100. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, in addition to the administrative handling cost, the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney shall collect an additional cost of five dollars per check for deposit to the Missouri office of prosecution services fund established in subsection 2 of section 56.765. All moneys collected pursuant to this section which are payable to the Missouri office of prosecution services fund shall be transmitted at least monthly by the county treasurer to the director of revenue who shall deposit the amount collected pursuant to the credit of the Missouri office of prosecution services fund under the procedure established pursuant to subsection 2 of section 56.765.
- Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary:
(1) In addition to the administrative handling costs provided for in subsection 5 of this section, the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney may collect from the issuer, in addition to the face amount of the check, a reasonable service charge, which along with the face amount of the check, shall be turned over to the party to whom the bad check was issued;
(2) If a check that is dishonored or returned unpaid by a financial institution is not referred to the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney for any action pursuant to the provisions of this section, the party to whom the check was issued, or his or her agent or assignee, or a holder, may collect from the issuer, in addition to the face amount of the check, a reasonable service charge, not to exceed twenty-five dollars, plus an amount equal to the actual charge by the depository institution for the return of each unpaid or dishonored instrument.
- When any financial institution returns a dishonored check to the person who deposited such check, it shall be in substantially the same physical condition as when deposited, or in such condition as to provide the person who deposited the check the information required to identify the person who wrote the check.
Penalty of Conviction
In short, if the checks that were passed were for less than $500 total, the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor, with up to one year in jail and a fine of up to two thousand dollars. Otherwise you could be facing a felony. In addition, you may be on the hook for court and legal fees. It is essential that you contact a trusted defense attorney to ensure you receive the best outcome possible.