With the economy in Oklahoma in worse condition than it has been in a long time, it is common for some people to try to write checks from an account that has insufficient funds to cover the debt, with the hope that funds will be available in the account by the time the check clears.
While this is common practice, it is important to remember that writing checks in such a manner is against Oklahoma law; people who bounce checks can end up facing criminal charges. The following reviews three critical things to understand about check fraud in Oklahoma.
What Constitutes Check Fraud?
“Bogus checks” or “hot checks” refer to checks that are written without sufficient funds to cover the amount owed. The Oklahoma District Attorney’s office views writing these types of checks a type of theft crime because there is not any money to pay for the product or service obtained. As a result, writing checks knowing that you have insufficient funds or writing a check when the associated account is closed are both viewed in Oklahoma as a type of fraud.
These criminal offenses are based on the perspective that checks represent a transaction in exchange for merchandise or service; a person writes a check with the intent that the check will clear. Consequently, if an individual writes a check with the knowledge that it will not clear, Oklahoma state law considers this an attempt to defraud a retailer or service provider.
The Knowledge Requirement
Fraud is an intentional attempt to deceive another. Writing a hot check, forging a signature on a check, or passing a check with the knowledge that there are not sufficient funds all constitute acts of intentional fraud. Many times, however, bounced checks are not intentional acts. Individuals often do not realize the accounts are overdrawn until they receive notice that the check was returned for nonpayment.
It is important to understand that the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office still considers it an offense even if a person lacks the intent. Instead, account holders are expected to stay up to date on whether there are adequate funds in their account.
How Oklahoma Penalizes Check Fraud
Like many other acts of fraud in Oklahoma, punishments associated with writing bad checks are influenced by the amount of money involved. Back checks written for less than $500 are classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in jail as well as fines of up to $1,000.
Bad checks written for between $500 to $1,000 are classified as a felony and punishable by fines of $5,000 and up to one year in jail and restitution. Bad checks written for amounts of $1,000 or greater are classified as felonies and punishable by up to a decade in prison.
Speak with an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with check fraud in Oklahoma, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact attorney Tracy Tiernan today to schedule a free case evaluation.