Issuing a Bad Check

Elements of the Offense

In order to convict a person of issuing a bad check in Virginia, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the offense:

  1. The defendant wrote/uttered/delivered a check on a bank
  2. The defendant knew at the time he acted that were not sufficient funds with the bank to cover payment of the check
  3. The defendant acted with the intent to defraud
  4. The check was in payment as a present consideration for goods or services.

If the government can prove that the amount of the check was $200 or more, it is a felony offense. If the amount of the check is below $200, it is a misdemeanor.  Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-181.

When the check is drawn on a bank in which the maker has no account, the finder of fact can infer that the check was issued with the intent to defraud.  It is not necessary that anything be received in return for the check in order to prove a bad check offense.  The offense is complete when, with intent to defraud, a person makes/draws/utters a check he knows to be worthless.  A person can still be convicted of this offense even if the payee discovers that the check is worthless before the transaction in question is completed.


A person convicted of issuing a bad check as a felony offense can be sentenced from one to 5 years imprisonment in a state correctional institution, sent to jail for up to 12 months, and/or fined up to $2,500.  Issuing a bad check as a misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.  Virginia Criminal Code §18.2-181.