Forty-nine out of the fifty United States have laws making writing a bad check a crime. The crime is known as larceny by check. The Massachusetts law prohibiting this conduct is G.L. c. 266 Section 37. That statute makes it a crime to write or pass a check knowing that there do not exist sufficient funds to cover the check. Simply passing the instrument satisfies the prosecution’s burden of going forward with these charges unless the accused covers the bad check within two days of being notified that the check has bounced. Fraudulent checks exceeding two hundred fifty dollars can result in a felony complaint issuing. Several times each month I get a call about one of these cases. The client usually asks if he or she can be prosecuted for bouncing a check. The answer is usually “yes, you can be prosecuted or that crime” however the likelihood of being convicted depends on factors discussed below.
The Prosecution Must Show That You Had The Intent to Pass a Bad Check
The district attorney can make a prima facie case against you by showing that you bounced a check and failed to make good on it within two days after you were notified that the check did not clear. That however does not mean that they will win the case. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you passed the check, and obtained value for doing so with knowledge that you didn’t have the funds to cover the check. Refuting the can be easy. It is not uncommon for someone to bounce a check believing he could cover it. Sometimes you actually have the money in the account when you write the check but this is depleted before the payee goes to cash or deposit the instrument. Disclosing this fact to a jury or a judge can result in your acquittal.
Other times, people incorrectly believe, in good faith, that they have the money to cover the check that they write. Then, when they receive notice that the check was no good they cannot cover it right away. A good lawyer will prove to the prosecutor, judge or jury that there was no criminal intent and a favorable result might be secured.
Restitution Often Results in a Dismissal of the Charges
People who have been victimized by bad checks are rarely out for blood. They simply want their money. An experienced criminal lawyer might be able to work out an expeditious restitution solution. In these instances the victims, once financially restored, might tell the prosecutor that they want to the case dropped. If the accused has a minimal record or no criminal history the case might be dropped. Usually, the worst case scenario is a continuance without a finding with an order of restitution.
Massachusetts Check Fraud Defense
It is important to act quickly and hire a lawyer if you are charged with this offense. Bouncing checks is common and can be defended successfully. Remember, people who have lost money due to a bad check just want to get paid. Attorney Stephen Neyman has defended these case with great success for nearly three decades. Call us at 617-263-6800 and let us get started with your criminal case.