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Bad Checks

A bad check offense can destroy your reputation and result in serious penalties, even if the check has a very low dollar value. Any conviction for a bad check offense can make it very difficult to find housing or employment, as it is an offense that indicates to people that you cannot be trusted. Passing or issuing a bad check with a value of only $500 is a felony, and can result in a sentence of up to fifteen years.

Bad check charges all have a mens rea, which means that you must know or intend that the check will not be honored when you pass it or issue it in order to be guilty of the crime. Unfortunately, there are various legislative presumptions that can allow the court to infer knowledge that you knew the bad check would be dishonored. I can sometimes demonstrate that the state has not met their requirements of those presumptions. I can also present your case in a way that negates those presumptions, by offering evidence that you were not aware that the check would be dishonored.

There are many ways that I can defend you against bad check charges. I can put forward evidence on your behalf. I can cross examine the state’s witnesses to limit their testimony, undermine their credibility, or render their testimony inadmissible. I can also exploit subtle defects in the State’s case to secure a dismissal or an acquittal. For example, the state must also wait 10 days before charges can be filed in many cases, which is not always honored. The state must also prove that payment was actually refused, which can create some problems of proof which I can exploit with the right objections.

Bad Check Offenses

There are several different bad check crimes in Maryland, all of which have the same penalty structure, and together they are described as obtaining property or services by bad check. You may not issue a check with knowledge of insufficient funds, issue a check with intent to stop payment, or issue a check with intent that payment be refused. You may not pass a check with knowledge that the drawer has insufficient funds, or pass a check knowing that payment has been stopped or that the check will be dishonored. You may also be charged with a bad check offense if you knowingly issue or pass a check drawn on a nonexistent or a closed account.

If you are charged with a crime involving a bad check, you may be charged with other separate crimes as well, such as theft, fraud, or identity theft.

Maximum Penalties for Bad Check and Check Fraud Crimes

  • CR 8-103 – Obtaining property or services by bad check with a value less than $100: misdemeanor, 90 days and $500
  • CR 8-103 – Obtaining property or services by bad check with a value less than $500: misdemeanor, 18 months and $100
  • CR 8-103 – Obtaining property or services by bad check with a value of $500 or more: felony, 15 years and $1,000
  • CR 8-108 – Paying court fines or costs with a bad check: misdemeanor, 60 days and $100

If you are charged for bad check with a total of under 100 dollars, the maximum sentence is 90 days imprisonment, and a $500 dollar fine. If you are charged for a bad check under $500, the maximum sentence is 18 months, and a $100 dollar fine. Both of crimes are misdemeanors. If you are charged for a bad check or bad checks with a total value of $500 or more, the crime is a felony, with a sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $1,000.

If you are accused of a crime involving multiple bad checks, the values of those bad checks can be added if the bad checks are issued to the same person within a 30 day period. Thus, if you are charged with passing five $100 bad checks to the same person over a period of 30 days, you could be charged with the felony. The state could also choose to charge each bad check as a separate crime.

While there are separate and very different penalties for obtaining property with a bad check with a value of less than 100 and a value of less than 500 dollars, they are not mutually exclusive. A bad check used to make a purchase of $1 has a value of less than $500, and it also has a value of less than $100. The prosecutor has the discretion to charge either crime, even where the bad checks have a value of under $100, which can result in very different sentences depending on how that discretion is exercised.

Bad check and fraud related offenses can cause severe damage to your reputation, and are particularly dangerous if you have a security clearance or if you work in a licensed profession. Because bad check and fraud related charges are generally crimes involving moral turpitude, they can trigger other proceedings and penalties that are not part of the criminal case against you.

If you’ve been charged with a crime involving bad checks or any related offense, I can vigorously defend your rights. Call (301) 556-8709 today so that we can get to work on your case.