Bad Checks

Writing Bad Checks in Washington DCElements of Offense

It is illegal in D.C. to issue a check or other instrument for the payment of money from a financial institution when the person knows at the time he/she issues the check either that there are insufficient funds to cover the check or that he or she will be stopping payment.  The government can prove the defendant’s intent to defraud through circumstantial evidence (for example, if check were issued against a closed account).  In addition, in the case of insufficient funds, the failure of the check to be honored by the financial institution within 5 days of the check’s issuance will serve as prima facie evidence of the issuer’s intent to defraud.  D.C. Criminal Code §22-1510.


It is a felony offense if the amount of the check is $1,000 or more.  In that case, conviction for the offense is punishable by up to 3 years in prison.  Otherwise, it is a misdemeanor offense with a punishment of no more than 180 days.  D.C. Criminal Code §§22-1510, 22-3571.01.