Hot Check Crimes

Penalties for Passing Hot Checks in Texas

While online fraud has received a lot of attention in recent years, people still get arrested for writing bad checks. This happens when someone writes a check knowing the amount is more than they have in their bank account. If you do this, you could face serious penalties under Texas law.

A “hot check” is just another name for a bad check or check fraud. Generally, the penalty for writing a bad check depends on the amount. In most cases, check fraud is charged as a misdemeanor, but this type of charge can rise to the level of a felony depending on the amount of money involved.

The bottom line is that writing a hot check can involve a lot more than getting a non-sufficient funds (NSF) letter in the mail from your bank. If you’ve been charged with writing a bad check in Texas, it’s important to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Penalties for Writing a Hot Check

Everyone struggles with money from time to time. Maybe you’re close to payday and need to buy groceries, or you’re counting on a big deposit to hit your account and don’t want to wait to make a purchase.

In many cases, people overdraft their accounts without doing it intentionally. In situations like this, you might have to pay a fee to your bank for insufficient funds, but you won’t face criminal charges.

When writing a hot check is intentional, however, it can rise to the level of fraud. In most cases, this type of crime is a misdemeanor. On the other hand, check fraud that involves a large amount of money can be prosecuted as a felony.

The main thing to remember is that the person writing the check must know they don’t have the money in their account to cover it. When the check bounces, the bank must notify the account holder in writing within 10 days that they have insufficient funds. It’s then the account holder’s responsibility to deposit enough money to cover the amount plus any fees.

While some cases of check fraud are discovered by banks after the account holder wrote the check and used it to make a purchase or pay a bill, technology has made it possible for businesses to document the exact moment when a person passes a hot check.

For example, many businesses and banks now have surveillance cameras installed. These cameras record transactions, documenting someone in the act of using a bad check. A prosecutor can use this footage to help prove the check writer passed a bad check.

When prosecutors have this kind of evidence, they might ask the defendant to agree to a plea bargain. Check fraud in Texas can carry serious penalties, such as a maximum of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. When facing these kinds of penalties, some defendants decide to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Check fraud charges can be enhanced depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if someone writes a hot check from another person’s account without their permission, this can be charged as identity theft, which carries additional penalties upon conviction.

Other Consequences of Passing a Hot Check

Fines and prison time are bad enough, but there can be other consequences associated with writing a hot check. Once you’re convicted, you will have a criminal record. This will appear on your credit report, which can stop you from getting credit.

For example, you may get turned away from landlords when you try to rent an apartment, as business owners don’t like to take on the risk of someone with a history of not paying their bills. You may also struggle to get approved for an auto loan or a mortgage. If you do get approved, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying high interest rates. This can trap you in a cycle of debt, and it can be hard to dig your way out.

Check fraud can also appear in ChexSystems, which is the service many banks use to determine if a potential customer has a history of writing bad checks. If you have a record of check fraud in your ChexSystems file, you may be unable to open a bank account. A criminal record involving financial fraud can also make it tough to pursue certain careers.

Get Help for Your Case

If you’re facing check fraud charges in Texas, it’s important to speak to an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer about your case. The consequences of a conviction can change your life forever. A knowledgeable Texas check fraud defense lawyer may be able to help you get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether.

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