Bad or bounced checks often don’t occur on purpose. Some people write checks that they think will be good that later bounce. You may have forgotten about an automatic draft scheduled for your quarterly insurance payment or that your paycheck would be short this week because you took several days off last week. Small oversights when writing a check could mean it doesn’t clear.
Unfortunately, enough people go out and intentionally write that checks that businesses and prosecutors alike tend to assume the worst when someone bounces checks. The state could prosecute you for larceny because you tried to pay for goods or services with a check that did not clear the account after you wrote it, which is essentially the same thing as stealing.
What kind of charges will you face?
Massachusetts has a larceny by check charge
Defrauding merchants and service providers by writing checks that will not result in full payment is common enough that Massachusetts has a specific criminal statute that applies to such offenses. The state larceny by check statute criminalizes the act of intentionally writing a bad check.
If you buy pizza or pay for a grocery delivery, you may face misdemeanor charges. The cutoff is $250. Any check written for goods or services worth more than $250 could lead to felony charges. So could any bad check written to purchase a firearm specifically, even if the price was under the $250 threshold.
The penalties for felony larceny by check is up to five years in state prison, up to two years in jail and as much as $25,000 in fines. On the other hand, if the charge is a misdemeanor offense, the penalties include up to $300 in fines and up to a year in state custody.
How do you defend against larceny by check charges?
Depending on the circumstances that led to your prosecution, there may be several viable solutions for resolving a larceny by check accusation. A thorough review of your financial records and prior criminal history will be a good place to start if you hope to defend against allegations of financial misconduct involving checks.
Defending yourself against white-collar criminal charges like larceny by check can help protect your reputation.