At some point in our lives, all of us are likely to fall upon hard times. There are a number of government assistance programs designed as “safety nets” to help people who have hit a bump in the road and need a little boost for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, however, these programs can involve complex application processes that can be slow and frustrating to deal with. As such, some people may try to turn to less legal tactics, such as writing a bad check, to help them through hard times. What they may not realize is that being convicted of writing a bad check can come with serious penalties, including lengthy jail sentences.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Salt Lake City passing a bad check defense attorneys have years of experience successfully defending Utahns who have been charged with this crime. We understand that you may not have passed the bad check intentionally and will work to tell your side of the story and get your charges downgraded or dismissed. Call our firm today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.
The Crime of Passing a Bad Check in Salt Lake City
Under the Utah criminal code, “any person who issues or passes a check or draft for the payment of money, for the purpose of obtaining… any money, property, or other thing of value or paying for any services, wages, salary, labor, or rent, knowing it will not be paid by the drawee and payment is refused by the drawee, is guilty of issuing a bad check or draft.” The law does give you a 14-day grace period from the time you receive actual notice that the check bounced in which you can pay the amount of the check to the payee without facing further charges. Furthermore, the law makes it so that an individual can only be convicted of this crime if they know that the check will bounce when they cut it. However, there is a presumption that the defendant knew the check would bounce that must be rebutted.
Penalties for Passing a Bad Check in Utah
Civil penalties for passing a bad check can include having to pay restitution for the amount for which the check was written, as well as a $20 fee for passing an insufficient funds check and a maximum charge of $20 for collection costs to the payee. However, if you take longer than the maximum 30 days to pay this amount, the payee can file a civil action which brings with it more severe penalties, including paying interest on the check, court costs and lawyers’ fees, and triple the amount for which the check was written or $100, whichever is greater, with a maximum penalty of $500.
Criminal penalties for passing a bad check are even more severe. The penalties you will face will depend on the amount of money in bad checks you tried to pass in a six-month period. If the check or series of checks within a period not exceeding six months amounts to a sum that is less than $500, the offense is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fine sup to $1,000.
If the check or checks were worth $500 or more but less than $1,500, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. If the check or checks were worth $1,500 or more but less than $5,000, the charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail and fines of up to $5,000. Finally, if the check or checks were worth $5,000 or more, the charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail and fines up to $15,000.
How a Passing a Bad Check Criminal Case Works in Salt Lake City
As noted above, you will be allowed a 14-day grace period after being notified that you passed a bad check to repay the payee before criminal charges can be filed. After that, the matter may be referred to the police and prosecutor to decide if they wish to proceed with charges. If they do, the police will get an arrest warrant and come to find you and place you under arrest.
After your arrest, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process. After you are booked, you will be held in a holding cell at the station or at the local detention center until it is time for your arraignment and bail hearing. At this hearing, the judge will read the charges against you, ask you to plead guilty or not guilty, and decide whether to release you on your own recognizance, hold you in jail until the underlying case is resolved, or set bail. Our experienced bail hearing attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC know how to make the best arguments to get you released on no bail or to get bail set at a reasonable amount. We will also likely advise you to plead not guilty at the arraignment so we can assess the cases further.
After this, we can begin negotiating a potential plea deal with the prosecutor. If you have no criminal record, we can try to get the prosecutor to agree to let you into a pre-trial diversion program, where the charges will be dropped if you complete it successfully. If pre-trial diversion is not in the cards, we can try to work out a deal where the charges are downgraded to something less serious or you plead guilty in exchange for a lenient sentence recommendation from the prosecutor. If you do not wish to take a deal or are not satisfied with the deal offered, our skilled trial lawyers are always ready to fight for your innocence at trial.
Call Our Experienced Salt Lake City Passing a Bad Check Defense Attorneys Today
While passing a bad check might seem like a minor crime, it can come with major consequences, including long jail sentences. Furthermore, a conviction for a crime of fraud such as this one could make future employers think twice before hiring you. At Overson Law, PLLC, our Salt Lake City passing a bad check defense attorneys understand how serious the ramifications can be and will fight with all the tools in our toolbox to bring your case to a positive resolution. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.