Can You Go to Jail for Writing a Bad Check in Utah?

You might assume that wiring a bad check is no big deal. Sometimes, people make excuses for writing bad checks, saying things like, “I’ll be good for the money later.” However, writing and issuing bad checks is a crime of fraud. There may be multiple offenses related to writing a bad check, and the penalties may be quite severe, especially when the checks are worth a lot of money.

Knowingly writing a bad check may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how much the check was worth. The penalties for such an offense will vary based on how you are charged and how much money you defrauded. Writing a bad check may also be considered a white-collar offense, and you could end up on Utah’s White-Collar Crime Offender Registry.

If you did not intend to issue a bad check and it was only a simple accounting oversight, Our Salt Lake City white-collar crimes defense lawyers can help you. Our team at Overson & Bugden is available for free legal consultations where we can discuss your situation. Call our offices at (801) 758-2287.

Criminal Charges for Writing a Bad Check in Utah

Writing bad checks may involve several criminal charges, depending on the circumstances of your case. These circumstances are important to consider as they may determine whether you are charged with misdemeanors or felonies. Writing a few bad personal checks is one thing, but writing bad checks to defraud customers or clients as part of your business is quite another. Whatever your situation, our Utah white-collar crimes defense lawyers are prepared to help you.

Criminal charges for issuing a bad check can be found under Utah Code § 76-5-505. Under the law, anyone who issues a check knowing that there is no money to back it up and the person drawing on the check will not be paid may be criminally charged. It is important to understand that being charged with this offense requires knowing that the check is bad when you write it. An accounting oversight that leads to what is often called a “bounced check” will not necessarily be criminally charged. However, failure to make good on an accidentally bounced check within a reasonable time could lead to criminal charges.

Writing bad checks may also be considered acts of forgery under Utah Code § 76-6-501(2). We often think of bad checks as being legitimate documents that are not supported by sufficient funds. However, a bad check could also be one that is completely fake. If a person were to produce or fill out a check that is not real or valid, it might be an act of forgery. For example, a person might print off multiple fake checks connected to bank accounts that are not real to defraud people out of goods or services they cannot otherwise pay for.

Penalties in Utah for Writing a Bad Check

Criminal charges for issuing a bad check may carry a variety of penalties based on how much money the defendant allegedly defrauded. Your precise penalties will depend on how much your bad check was worth. If multiple bad checks are involved, the aggregate value of any bad checks made within a 6-month period may be used. Our Park city criminal defense attorneys can help you assess your case and determine how much money you are accused of stealing or defrauding.

If the total value of your bad checks is less than $500, your charges may be Class B misdemeanors punishable by a jail term of no more than 6 months. Bad checks that total at least $500 but less than $1,500 may lead to charges for Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in jail. If your offense is found to be worth at least $1,500 but less than $5,000, you may be charged with a third-degree felony and sentenced to a prison term of no more than 5 years. Finally, if your bad checks are valued at $5,000 or more, you can be charged with a second-degree felony and punished by a prison term of at least 1 year and up to 15 years.

Forgery may be charged as a third-degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. However, convicted defendants who wrote or forged bad checks may also be required to pay restitution to any defrauded victims. You might have to pay back all the money you allegedly stole or defrauded. Depending on how many checks you wrote and how much they were worth, this could be a very expensive punishment.

Writing Bad Checks and The White-Collar Crime Offender Registry

Utah is a unique state because it has a registry for offenders convicted of certain white-collar crimes. People convicted of white-collar crimes are required to register, and information about their crimes is made available to the public. The registry is intended for offenders convicted of specific crimes:

  • Securities fraud
  • Theft by deception
  • Unlawful dealing of property by fiduciary
  • Fraudulent insurance
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Any pattern of unlawful activity where at least one activity is one of the above-listed offenses

While writing bad checks is not specifically mentioned on this list, it may be included with an offense that is. For example, writing a bad check to buy a car may be considered theft by deception because you tricked a person into giving you a car in exchange for a check you know is worthless. Alternatively, writing bad checks could be a part of a larger white-collar criminal scheme involving several offenses establishing a pattern of unlawful activity. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can argue to keep you off the registry and minimize your penalties if convicted.

Call Our Utah White-collar Crimes Defense Attorneys

If you are accused of writing bad checks, our Ogden criminal defense attorneys can help you fight any criminal charges and clear your name. Our team at Overson & Bugden can meet with you in a free legal consultation to talk about your charges. Call us right away at (801) 758-2287.