Many citizens of Utah routinely use checks to pay their rent, bills, and other expenses, as well as for retail purchases in some cases. It is not uncommon for a grandparent to send their grandchild a check for their birthday or another holiday. Most of the time, these transactions are without incident, as the check clears and, even if does not, the matter is resolved quickly and without police involvement. However, if the matter is not resolved and law enforcement is informed that a bad check has been passed in your name, you could face serious penalties, including long jail sentences.
At Overson & Bugden, our Utah passing a bad check defense attorneys have many years of experience working with clients across the state who have been charged with this crime to get their charges downgraded or dismissed. We understand that just because you have been accused of committing this crime, this does not mean that you did so. We are here to tell your side of the story and to serve as a fearless advocate for your innocence. For a free consultation, call our office today at (801) 758-2287.
The Crime of Passing a Bad Check in Utah
As stated in 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.” However, there is a catch in the law to prevent those whose bad checks are genuine mistakes or misunderstandings from being punished. So long as you repay the amount of the check to the payee within 14 days of learning that the check has bounced, you cannot be charged with this crime.
The fact that the law includes a 14-day grace period for repayment means that officers and the court take violations even more seriously, as they will view you as having been warned and not correcting the issue. Furthermore, there will be a rebuttable presumption at any potential trial that you knew the check would bounce when you cut it, a key component of proving the government’s case.
Penalties for Passing a Bad Check in Utah
Both civil and criminal penalties may be assessed against those convicted of passing a bad check. On the criminal side, 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 will be a class B misdemeanor, with criminal penalties of up up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. If they 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 they 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. If they were worth $5,000 or more, the charge is a first-degree felony, for which you can face up to 15 years in jail and fines up to $15,000.
On the civil side, you will first and foremost have to pay restitution for the amount of the bad check you issued. Then, you will have to pay a $20 fee for passing an insufficient funds check and a maximum charge of $20 for collection costs to the payee. If you take longer than 30 days to pay these costs, the payee will be permitted to bring a civil action against you. Such an action will result in even more costs for you if it is successful, including a potential fine of triple the amount for which the check was written or $100, whichever is greater, with a maximum penalty of $500.
How a Passing a Bad Check Criminal Case Works in Utah
After you are arrested for this crime, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process, which involves you being photographed and fingerprinted and your biographical information being collected. After this, you will remain in the holding cell or be transported to the local jail until your bail hearing, which is typically held within 72 hours of your booking. There will also be an arraignment, usually at or around the same time as your bail hearing, where you will be asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty. A skilled criminal defense lawyer like those at Overson & Bugden will likely advise you to plead not guilty while we assess the case.
At the bail hearing, the judge will decide whether you can be released on your own recognizance, or without bail, if bail will be set, or if you must be held in jail until the underlying matter can be resolved. Our experienced bail hearing attorneys know how to make the best arguments to get you released on minimal or no bail. After the bail hearing, we can begin negotiating a potential plea deal, including trying to get you into a pre-trial diversion program if you qualify. If you are not satisfied with the deal offered or simply do not wish to take a deal, our skilled trial lawyers are always ready and willing to fight for a not guilty verdict in the courtroom.
Call Our Utah Passing a Bad Check Defense Attorneys Today
While passing a bad check might seem like a relatively minor offense, it can come with some serious penalties, especially in cases where the check was for a large amount of money. At Overson & Bugden, our experienced Utah passing a bad check defense attorneys are ready to fight for you. We will leave no stone unturned as we work to get your story told and bring your case to the best possible resolution. For a free consultation, contact our office today at (801) 758-2287.