Can you go to jail for bad checks?

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Can you go to jail for bad checks?

Have a few checks that have bounced. I plan to contact them ASAP to make arrangements, but am afraid of legal ramifications. Can I fix this?

Asked on October 14, 2010 under Criminal Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an attorney about how best to fix it. The short answer is, bouncing a check, due to inadvertance (e.g. bad timing of payments vs. deposits; not keeping tight track of your account balance; etc.) does not expose you to criminal liability. Criminal liability could be incurred if it appears that rather than simply falling on hard times or making a mistake, that you you instead intended to not pay or honor the checks. The problem is that bouncing several checks could be taken as evidence that you were deliberately passing bad checks. An attorney can evaluate the specifics of your situation (how many checks; for  how much; what time frame; etc.) and advise you as to the potential liability; the attorney can also help you negotiate with whomever you owe the money to and, if it comes to, deal with the prosecutor (if there are charges) on your behalf.


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