Can criminal charges be filed for a stop payment on a rent check?

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Can criminal charges be filed for a stop payment on a rent check?

My wife gave landlord rent check for last half last month and all of this month (although we moved mid-month). No notice; we just moved. We stopped payment on the check.

Asked on July 20, 2011 Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Stopping payment on a check is a crime--as opposed to "merely" a basis to potentially be sued--if it is done with criminal intent--e.g. an intent to not pay just or lawful debts. So if you owe the money to the landlord because you moved without providing notice--and you know you owe the money--it is possible that stopping the payment could constitute a crime. Moreover, even if, at the end of the day, your wife would not be convicted, it's possible that at the least that charges could initially be pressed against her, if there is enough, at first glance, for the authorities to conclude that your wife knowingly passed a check she did not intend to pay.

Whether the landlord will bother contacting the authorities and/or suing is a different story; alot depends on how much you owe, how much he/she/it can get from your security deposit, etc.


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