If you commit check fraud in California, you may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties, and you should contact a San Francisco white collar criminal attorney to make sure your rights are protected.
Under § 1719 of the California Civil Code, which is known as the “California bad check law,” an individual who writes a bad check must repay the recipient the original amount of the check, plus a service fee and any mailing costs. A penalty may apply if the amount owed is not paid within 30 days of the demand for payment. This penalty is set by statute and is equal to three times the amount of the original check.
However, these civil penalties apply independent of any criminal charges for check fraud. Criminal check fraud under Penal Code § 470 covers acts of misrepresentation in a financial transaction.
A common manner of committing check fraud is the fraudulent use of someone else’s check or checking account to remove money from the victim’s account. Sometimes, the perpetrator knows the victim and simply steals a check. Many times, checks are stolen from a mailbox. In either case, the result is an attempt to cash a check by forging the victim’s signature.
It is important to understand that a legal prosecution for check fraud need not show the victim was actually defrauded. The intent to defraud is all that is necessary.
Check fraud may be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on such issues as the circumstances of the case and any prior convictions the accused may have. If you have been charged with check fraud, please contact San Francisco white collar criminal attorney Christopher Morales for a free evaluation of your case.