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Passing bad checks risks a theft conviction – Virginia criminal lawyer

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Dec 14, 2018 Passing bad checks risks a theft conviction – Virginia criminal lawyer

Passing bad checks risks a theft conviction - Virginia criminal lawyer

Passing bad checks risks a theft conviction – Virginia criminal lawyer

Passing bad checks risks a conviction, underlines Virginia criminal lawyer

Passing checks on insufficient funds risks a theft conviction. Va. Code § 18.2-181. As a Virginia criminal lawyer and as a former commercial bank examiner/auditor during the year before law school, I know that passing bad checks is all too common.

Fairfax criminal lawyer on the stiff potential penalties for passing bad checks

In Virginia, passing a bad check for a stated value of $500 or more is a Class 6 felony, carrying up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2500. Passing a bad check for a stated value under $500 is a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.00. Va. Code § 18.2-181.

Virginia’s bad check statute provides that one is guilty of larceny/theft when the person (1) with intent to defraud (2) makes, draws, or utters (3) any check (4) upon a bank (5) knowing, at the time that insufficient funds exist for the payment. Va. Code  § 18.2-181.

When a check is rejected by the drawee bank for insufficient funds, that is prima facie evidence of the defendant’s intent to defraud or of knowledge of insufficient funds unless the defendant has “paid the holder thereof the amount due thereon, together with interest, and protest fees (if any), within five days after receiving written notice” that the check has not been paid. Va. Code § 18.2-183.

A mark on the check as “not sufficient funds,” “uncollected funds,” “account closed,” or “no account in this name” “shall be prima facie evidence that such notation is true and correct.” Va. Code § 18.2-184.

Virginia criminal attorney on defenses against prosecutions for passing bad checks

As a Virginia criminal lawyer, I know that the foregoing presumptions create challenges for defending against bad check prosecutions. Nonetheless, someone accused of writing a bad check makes matters worse by admitting any wrongdoing. Once a person is accused of writing or passing a bad check, s/he ideally will obtain the assistance of a qualified lawyer.

Fairfax criminal attorney on motivations for passing bad checks and how to avoid it

Some people knowingly pass bad checks hoping they will never be prosecuted, hoping that they will be able to replenish their bank account before the check can bounce, or hoping they can make good on the check later if the check’s recipient demands payment.

Conscientious check writers will assure that their bank balances are kept up to date, and that they wait for checks deposited to their accounts to clear before writing checks against such funds.

Checking account holders can also apply with their bank for overdraft protection or a credit line to cover for times when bank accounts have insufficient funds.

The Virginia Supreme Court this week affirmed a bad check conviction carrying three years active prison time

Daniel Ernest McGinnis learned how stiff sentencing can get for bad theft convictions. McGinnis wrote and passed three bad checks exceeding the felony threshold value, and got convicted and hit with a sentence of nine years, suspending six and one-half years, leaving two and one-half years to be served. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. McGinnis v. Virginia, ___ Va. ___ (Dec. 13, 2018).

Virginia criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended many people charged with crimes involving alleged theft and other illegal financial, banking and white collar transactions. To discuss your misdemeanor, felony or DUI case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation. 

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