A check is a convenient method of payment that usually does not create a problem for the writer of the check or the person receiving it. Serious criminal charges can result when a bank refuses to honor the check. The simple act of offering a check for payment can lead to court-imposed sanctions and a criminal record if the funds to cover the amount are not available.
Anyone can make a mistake by not recording a check or a withdrawal that leads to an account being overdrawn. The Texas Penal Code recognizes that people make mistakes, but knowing that the funds to pay are not in the bank at the time the check is issued transforms a mistake into a criminal fraud offense.
A qualified white-collar crimes attorney knows that under the criminal laws pertaining to a bad check or, as it is commonly known, a hot check, prosecutors can prove that a person had knowledge of insufficient funds in several ways, including:
Examples of direct evidence proving that the issuer knew a check would be dishonored by the bank include withdrawing funds from the account immediately after issuance, proof of receipt of a bank statement or other notification indicating that the account was overdrawn or notice that a judgment execution or tax lien had frozen any funds in the account.
The severity of a bad check charge and the penalties imposed on conviction depend upon the amount for which it was written. An insufficient check for $20 or less is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500, but kiting a check for $500 to $1,500 can be prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor subject to a fine up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail. Worthless checks above $1,500 are prosecuted as felony crimes that are punishable by a prison sentence and fines.
Experienced white-collar lawyers like Rand Mintzer know that a thorough review of the documents and other evidence supporting the prosecution’s case is essential in preparing a defense strategy in a hot check case. For example, a postdated check might not be sufficient evidence in a criminal prosecution. The fact that it was postdated could prove that the receiver of the check was aware that insufficient funds existed in the account upon which it was drawn.
If you have been accused of committing fraud, Houston check fraud lawyer Rand Mintzer will fight on your behalf. Give Rand Mintzer a call today at 713-862-8880 to get a free review of your legal case.