Bad Checks

It is illegal in Maryland to issue a check when you know that there are insufficient funds to cover the check or when you intend at the time you issue the check to stop payment. The criminal offense does not cover situations in which payment on a check is refused as part of a contractual dispute. This would be a civil matter.

Bad Check – Insufficient Funds

In order to prove the criminal offense of a bad check through insufficient funds, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the defendant obtained property or services by passing or issuing a check, (2) that the defendant knew that there were insufficient funds to cover that check, (3) that the defendant either intended or believed that payment would be refused on the check, (4) that the check was ultimately dishonored, and (5) that the defendant did not make good on the check within 10 days after it had been dishonored.  Maryland Criminal Code §8-103.

Knowledge that there were insufficient funds to cover the check or that the account was closed at the time the check was passed may be proved by the defendant’s conduct and by other surrounding circumstances.

Bad Check – Stop Payment

There are four elements to the criminal offense of bad check though the stopping of payment.  First, the government must prove that the defendant obtained property or services by passing or issuing a check.  Second, the government must prove that the defendant intended to stop payment on the check at the time the check was passed/issued.  Third, the government must prove that the defendant did stop payment on the check.  Finally, the government must prove that the check was dishonored by the financial institution on which the check was drawn.   Maryland Criminal Code §8-103.

Penalties

Using one or more bad checks to obtain property or services with a combined value of $500 or more is a felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years and/or maximum fine of $1,000.  If the property or service obtained is valued at $100-$499, the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or $100 fine.  Finally, if the value of the property or service obtained is less than $100, the offense is punishable by up to 90 days in prison and/or $500 fine.  Maryland Criminal Code §8-106.

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