If you have been charged with worthless check, bad check, or bounced check under
Florida law, contact an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Attorney for a free consultation.
A conviction for issuing worthless, bounced, or bad checks in Florida can result
in serious criminal penalties, including imprisonment. The offense is also a “crime
of dishonesty,” and carries with it a stigma that can destroy one’s reputation and
permanently interfere with employment applications, college applications, and future
Definition of Worthless Check or “Bad” Check- Florida Law
Under Florida Law, it is illegal for any person, firm, or corporation to obtain any
services, goods, wares, or other things of value by means of a check, draft, or other
written order upon any bank, person, firm, or corporation, knowing at the time of
the making, drawing, uttering, issuing, or delivering of such check or draft that
the maker thereof has not sufficient funds on deposit in or credit with such bank
or depository with which to pay the same upon presentation.
Worthless check cases are governed by Florida Statutes Section 832.05. Although most
prosecutions under the statute are directed at “bounced” or “bad” checks, the statute
applies to a variety of orders to pay money and “commercial paper,” and to a variety
of types of drawees and transactions. It even applies to debit cards.
How Are Worthless Check and Bad Check Cases Proven in Florida?
To prove the crime of worthless check under Florida Statute 832.05(4) (the most common
subsection used by the State Attorney in Jacksonville), the prosecution must establish
the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
the defendant “drew” or “uttered” or “issued” or delivered a check (or other qualifying
payment order or commercial paper);
the defendant did so to obtain services, goods, wares, or other things of value;
the services, goods, wares, or other things alleged had some monetary value;
when the defendant did so, there were insufficient funds on deposit in the bank to
pay the check;
the defendant knew (when the check was written) that there were insufficient funds
in the bank, and
the defendant knew there was no arrangement or understanding with the bank for the
payment of the check.
Where the check issued by the defendant is in an amount less than $150.00, the offense
is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Where the check
is in an amount of $150.00 or more, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable
by up to 5 years imprisonment.
In Florida, When is Issuing a Worthless Check a Crime?
Florida’s worthless / bounced check law does not criminalize the mere writing a check
when there are inadequate funds in your bank account. The law requires the prosecution
to show that the accused knew (at the time the check was made or issued) that there
were insufficient funds in his or her account. Thus, there is a knowledge element
that must be proven.
However, in any prosecution for bad check or bounced check violations, the making,
drawing, uttering, or delivery of a check (or other payment order), which is later
refused by the bank because of lack of funds in the accused’s account, is prima facie
evidence of intent to defraud or knowledge of insufficient funds. Thus, where the
accused issues a bad check, a rebuttable presumption is created that the accused
knew there were insufficient funds to cover the payment order represented by the
check. The only exception is where the accused (the check maker and issuer) pays
the holder of the instrument (the person who was to be paid with the check) the total
amount due, together with applicable service fees, within 15 days after the holder
sends written notice of the bad check, bounced check, or worthless check.
No crime may be charged in respect to the giving of a worthless or bad check when
the payee (the person receiving the check or payment order) knows, has been expressly
notified, or has reason to believe that the accused did not have on deposit sufficient
funds in the bank to ensure payment. However, the previous issuance of a bad check
by the accused is insufficient to put the payee on notice.
Are There Defenses in Florida to Worthless / Bad Check?
Yes. The reality for most misdemeanor prosecutors in Jacksonville and elsewhere in
Florida is that worthless check cases are labor-intensive and difficult to prove.
Often, with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer at your side, these cases can
be resolved through diversion programs or in a manner that spares the accused of
a technical conviction.
When diversionary programs are not available, numerous defenses and strategies exist
to fight the charge. Common defense issues can include the following:
Will the prosecution be able to obtain bank records within the 90-day misdemeanor
speedy trial period (assuming your attorney does not waive speedy trial)?
Can they prove the accused’s identity?
Can they prove that something of value was actually obtained from the transaction?
Did the accused know that there were insufficient funds, or did he or she make a
Did the accused sign in an individual capacity, or as an agent of a company or other
Did the payee delay in depositing the check?
Did the payee have notice or reason to know there were insufficient funds?
Did the accused believe the bank would cover the transaction if the funds in the
account proved insufficient?
Did the accused believe there was overdraft protection?
Did the accused believe there was adequate credit with the bank to cover the transaction?
A Florida prosecution for worthless check, bad check, or bounced check is a serious
matter that should not be taken lightly. In appropriate cases, a Jacksonville criminal
defense lawyer can raise defenses on your behalf to contest the charge or mitigate
its negative consequences. If you have been accused, contact an experienced Jacksonville
Worthless Check Defense Attorney for a free consultation.