If you issue a bad check, you can be charged with a crime. A bad check is a check that is issued even though there are not enough funds in your bank account to cover the value of the check. Depending on the value of the check, the crime could even be a felony. To convict you, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you issued the check with the intent to defraud someone. If you simply made a mistake and didn't realize there was not money in your account, you can't be convicted of issuing a bad check.
What's the punishment for issuing a bad check?
If the value of the check is $200 or more, you can be charged with a felony. In that case, it would be a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony carries up to five years in prison. However, if the value of the check is under $200, you can only be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor carries up to 12 months in jail.
What defenses do I have?
The prosecutor has to prove that you knew there were insufficient funds in the account and that you issued the check with the intent to defraud someone. So if you can prove that there were insufficient funds in your account, but you had good reason to believe there would be sufficient funds at the time the check would be cashed, that is a defense.
This crime is most commonly charged against someone who has issued bad checks on several occasions. If you've had checks bounce in the past, it's easier to prove that you knew there were insufficient funds in the account.
Should I speak with the police if they contact me?
You should not speak with the police unless you've spoken with an attorney first. If the police are trying to contact you, it's likely that they are trying to gather evidence to use against you. Anything that you say will be used against you. If your conversation with the police isn't recorded, it will be your word against theirs. Even if you conversation is recorded, the recording could be lost or damaged. You should always speak with an attorney before talking to the police.
If you use checks to pay for things, you should make sure that you're aware of the amount of money in your checking account. It's unlikely that you'll be charged with issuing a bad check the first time a check bounces, but it could happen if you continue to issue bad checks.