Writing a bad check is a serious offense in Texas. This is why the Texas legislature has created serious laws to be enacted for anyone caught writing a check they cannot afford to pay. In Texas, a bad check is one that is written for an amount that is more than the amount in the checking account provided. Other bad checks can include ones written for bank accounts that have been closed, non-existence accounts and accounts in which the check writer is not authorized to use. Spending money that is not yours is a very serious offense.
Penalties for Writing Bad Checks
In Texas, there are many criminal penalties that someone can face if they knowingly write a bad check for a purchase. They may be ultimately sentenced to spend up to two or more years in a county jail. Also, they may be fined a fee of up to $1,000. If the person is a repeat offender, the amount of time they spend in jail may be extended. Additionally, the offender will have to pay back the amount that they originally wrote on the bad check. The offender will also have to pay any fees or expenses incurred by the recipient of the bad check.
Before any legal action is done, the recipient of the bad check is required to inform the bad check writer of such offense. In accordance with Texas law, the recipient of the bad check has different ways to notify the bad check writer that is acceptable. Some of the acceptable means of notification include sending a letter by first-class mail or a certified or registered letter with return receipt. The letter must clearly state the problem at hand and include a return address on the envelope. The amount spent on sending the letter is also an expense that the bad check writer must pay back to the bad check recipient.
How to File a Complaint if you Receive a Bad Check in Texas
Many businesses, especially small ones, cannot afford receiving bad checks as payments. Bad checks, also referred to as bounced checks, can reflect poorly on your own business if it starts to affect your bank account and causes you to overdraw. It can turn into many overdrawn fees that can add up. If you receive a bad check, there are many steps that you can take to get those funds recovered.
Contact Check Writer- Like state above, the first step should always be to contact the writer of the bad check first. They must be notified that they wrote a check that bounced. Sometimes, it can be a simple mistake. Always give the check writer a chance to rectify the problem first. This can be the easiest way to get the problem resolved.
Send Certified Letter- Like mentioned earlier, according to Texas law, you are able to send a certified letter with return receipt to the bad check writer stating the problem. The letter must include a return address. In the letter, ask that they send you a payment for the cost of the bad check plus the cost of the certified letter by either money order or certified check. State in the letter that they have a certain amount of days to respond or further action will be taken.
Followup Call- Even though you are now able to legally take them to small claims court, it is still best to avoid it if possible. Let them know that it is in everyone's best interest to settle the problem now. Explain to the bad check writer that you are able to file a police report or take them to small claims court if they do not pay what they owe you.
File Police Report- If they still do not pay what they owe on the bad check, you can then call your local police in Texas to file a report. When you file the report, be sure to include a copy of the bounced check, the certified letter you sent them and any related documents or receipts of your attempts at collecting the funds owed to you. Ask the police to help you pursue the check writer and help get your funds.
Go to Small Claims Court- This is not an ideal way to get your funds back. However, it is sometimes the only way to be successful. In Texas, the small claims court limit is set at $10,000. If the amount you are trying to recover is more than $10,000, you will have to take the bad check writer to criminal court. If your case is heard in small claims court, you can ask to have your funds paid back to you with any bank and court fees added to the amount of the bad check. You are also able to try and get any damages recovered as well.
Put Lien on Property- If the court rules in your favor, they will generally give the check writer a specific amount of time to pay you back what they owe. However, if they fail to pay, you are able to return back to small claims court and ask that the judge put a lien on the check writer's personal property or garnish their wages in order to get back what you are owed.
For further information on writing or passing a bad check and for civil and criminal penalties in other states under the laws of issuing bad checks, please read Bad Check Laws.
Find out how to Prevent Overdraft And Bounced Check Fees.
Learn about Fraudulent Checks And Withdrawals.