The crime of obtaining property for a worthless check is common in Florida. Florida statutes define the crime of Obtaining Property for a Worthless Check as a situation in which someone issues a check to obtain property or a service from another individual when the person who wrote the check knows there are insufficient funds for the money to actually be withdrawn from the account.
One of the main focuses of the State Attorney's Office is ensuring that restitution is paid to the alleged victim as soon as possible. One of the best things you can do to help your case is hire an attorney and have the attorney pay the restitution through a trust account and work with the assigned prosecutor to get the charges dropped.
If a person who accepts a worthless check does wish to formally prosecute the person who wrote the check, they must take certain measures before the State Attorney's Office can file charges. These steps include giving notice to the person the alleged victim wishes to prosecute. This can be done via First Class Mail, Certified Mail, or something similar which would provide evidence that notice was attempted to the return address written on the check. Even if the letter returns undeliverable, this provides sufficient evidence that notice was attempted. There is also an Affidavit for Criminal Prosecution of Worthless Check Cases in each county in Florida. Further information regarding the requirements of the affidavit can be located on the State Attorney's website.
While obtaining property for a worthless check is a serious matter, there are various defenses to this type of accusation some of which include:
Not Knowing the Check Would Bounce
The Depositor of the Check Knew or Should Have Known the Check was Worthless
Stopping Payment with Intent to Defraud
A bank can classify a dishonored check with various notations all of which can lead to a criminal conviction under Florida law. Some of these notations include: Insufficient Funds; Closed Account; Uncollected Funds; Account Not Found; Refer to Maker; and NSF or Non-Sufficient Funds.
Punishment for obtaining property for a worthless check can be harsh. When the amount of the check written is less than $150, this classifies a first degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to a year in jail. If the check was written for over $150, the offense is then classified as a third degree felony which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
If you or someone you love has been charged for a theft crime, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to protecting your freedom and future. At Taracks & Associates, our Tampa criminal attorneys are committed to fighting on behalf of our clients to try to have charged dropped or reduced. If you would like to discuss your case, our legal team is available to provide a free consultation.