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Many individuals who own a checkbook have unfortunately written a check that bounced. While the usual penalty involves fees from the bank and/or the recipient of the check, writing a bad check is a crime in the state of Florida – and if you’re convicted, you can go to jail.

The Law Against “Worthless Checks”

Florida Statute 832.05 defines the offense of “Giving Worthless Checks, Drafts, and Debit Card Orders.” Anyone who is familiar with Florida’s laws can tell you that some of them are quite wordy and complicated. To simplify things, we have provided a simple explanation of the specifics of the statute.

Specifically, per the contents of this statute, it’s illegal to write a check (or use a debit card, or similarly promise money from an account) if you know that you don’t presently have that much money (or credit) in your account to cover it.

Proof of Knowledge

After reading that statute, you may be wondering how a prosecutor would be able to prove that someone knew they didn’t have enough money to cover the check they wrote. After all, people accidentally bounce checks all the time.

The answer lies in Florida Statute 832.07, which says, “The making, drawing, uttering, or delivery of a check, draft or order, payment of which is refused by the drawee because of lack of funds or credit, shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud or knowledge of insufficient funds.”

In other words, a bad check itself is considered evidence that the defendant knew it was bad – and it’s up to the defendant to prove otherwise.

There is an exception to this rule, though. The statute also says that if the writer of the check had a valid account, he or she will not be presumed to have knowledge that the account had insufficient funds if he or she pays restitution to the recipient of the check. This involves the writer of the check paying back the full amount of the check, along with either a service charge, or an amount of up to 5% of the check (whichever is greater). The writer of the check must also pay the restitution within 15 days of being notified that the check was invalid.

An Attorney Can Help

Writing a worthless check can be a felony, so if you’ve been accused, it is important to seek out the best defense possible. You can call or email the office of Fort Lauderdale defense attorney Mark S. Lowry today and schedule a consultation to begin working on your case.