It’s upsetting to be unable to pay your rent or your child’s tuition but acknowledging that you are struggling financially may be difficult as well. Maybe you are heavily in debt, your job has been delaying your paycheck or a payment you were counting on is late. So, even though you do not have enough money in your checking account, you write a few bad checks to continue living your normal life.
However, apart from damaging your credit, repeatedly signing bogus checks can result in jail time.
Writing a bad check can lead to a felony charge
A bad or bounced check happens when payment is drawn from a checking account that does not exist or has insufficient funds. Because there are not enough funds to process the payment, the bank declines the check causing it to bounce back or return to the account holder.
Writing a bad check can happen by mistake. You still have time to pay before the bad check affects your credit score or a lawsuit is filed against you. However, having a history of writing bad checks may be seen as check fraud, regardless of your intention.
If the amount on the check is $500 or more, you could face a felony charge that carries a punishment of up to two years in prison and fines of up to $2,000 or three times the amount you owe. You may also have to pay a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee for every bad check.
Keeping a tight eye on your bank account and where your money is going can prevent you from resorting to writing a bad check. You may also consider balancing your checkbook and keeping some extra cash in your account as a buffer. A bad check can usually be resolved, but if you are already facing legal action, speaking with a lawyer may be your best option.