Bad Checks

Bad Checks

What is the Penalty for Writing Bad Checks in Maryland?

A former Columbia, Maryland resident was recently sentenced to 18 months in jail after writing more than $5,500 in bad checks from a closed bank account to pay for rent at two Columbia apartment complexes.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the man pleaded guilty to a theft scheme between $1,000 and $10,000, theft under $1,000 and two bad check charges. A Howard County Circuit Court sentenced the man to 10 years in prison at the end of the hearing, suspending all but 18 months. In addition to paying court costs, the man was also placed on three years of supervised probation following his release.

What are bad checks?

Bad checks are checks written from a closed account, a check from a fake bank account, stopping payment before a check is cashed and/or writing a check without sufficient funds.

The most common form of a bad check is writing a check with the knowledge that there isn’t enough money in the account to cover the amount of the check.

Under Maryland law, writing bad checks comes under the fraud statute; so, it is a criminal act to obtain property with checks that a person knows will not be honored.

Like most fraud cases in Maryland, bad check crimes require that an individual have the intent to defraud another person. It is not a crime for a person to pay for goods or services with a check that he or she reasonably believes will be honored; although there may be liability in a civil lawsuit.

Penalties for Writing a Bad Check in Maryland

The value of the goods or services used when writing a bad check in Maryland determines the severity of the charges. In Maryland, obtaining goods or services valued at less than $100 with a bad check comes with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a $500 fine and is a misdemeanor. Obtaining goods and services between $100 and $500 carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail, a fine of $100 and is a misdemeanor. If a person uses a bad check to obtain property or services valued at $500 more, he or she faces a felony fraud charge with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $1,000. Paying court fines or costs with a bad check is a misdemeanor with a maximum of 60 days jailtime and a $100 fine.

In many instances, the value of the goods or services obtained is added together to create a total amount if carried out under one plan.

In addition, if convicted, restitution is required to the person or business that had an interest in the goods or services provided, which were obtained by the fraudulent check.

Depending on the details of the case, the state may also charge additional offenses, such as identity theft.

If you’ve been involved in writing bad checks in Baltimore City or Baltimore County or elsewhere in Maryland, you should talk to a Maryland bad check lawyer. A Baltimore bad check lawyer can examine your case and discuss your options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.