Bad Checks 2C:21-5

Passing a Bad Check Attorneys in Mercer County NJ

Issuing or passing a “bad check” can happen to anyone. Whether you were in a jam or you simply forgot how much money was in your account, we can help. Passing a bad check a serious felony criminal offense and one that should not be taken lightly. The true severity of the charges will be determined just like every other theft offense, value of the “loss”. Meaning that whether a Defendant gets charged with a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) or a second degree felony will be determined by the loss the victim suffered. For more information on this, please see below. If you have been accused of passing a bad check, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, theft, shoplifting or burglary in Mercer County, the Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver can help. Our attorneys have been defending clients accused of passing bad checks in courts throughout New Jersey for almost a decade now. Our attorneys have the experience and skill set required to make sure this mistake does not ruin your future. If you would like to come into our office for a face to face consultation with one of our attorneys then please contact us directly at (609) 789-0779. We defend clients accused of this offense in courts throughout Mercer County including the Mercer County Superior Court, the Hamilton Municipal Court, the Lawrence Municipal Court, the East Windsor Municipal Court, the West Windsor Municipal Court and the Princeton Municipal Court. Remember, our initial consultations are free, so if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask. For more information on passing bad check charges please see below.

Issuing a Bad Check in Hamilton NJ

Bad Checks Charges in NJ: N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5

Whether you have been accused of issuing or passing a bad check in New Jersey, the statute that will govern this crime is N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5. In order to be convicted of this offense in New Jersey, the prosecution must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the Defendant knowingly issued or passed a check as payment; &
  • At the time of issuing or passing the check the Defendant knew that the check would not be honored.

So basically, in layman’s terms, the State needs to establish that the Defendant used a check as a form of payment knowing there was not enough funds in the account. The legislature has added a presumption into the statue. If the Defendant passes a check from an account that is no longer in existence or if the bank refuses to honor the check for a lack of funds, it will be presumed that the Defendant had knowledge that the check would not be honored. This is important since an experienced Mercer County criminal defense attorney will absolutely try and attack the underlying intent of the accused when defending these types of charges. If you have been charged with passing a bad check in Mercer County and would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your options then please contact us at (609) 789-0779. For more information on the potential penalties, see below.

What are the Penalties for Passing a Bad Check in NJ?

As touched upon earlier, bad checks charges will be graded just like every other theft and forgery charge, by the value of the loss suffered. Here is a breakdown of the different degree of passing a bad check and what the potential penalties are if convicted.

  • 2nd Degree: Value of the loss is greater than $75,000
    • 5 to 10 years in a State Prison;
      • A presumption for incarceration exists since this is a second degree offense.
    • Fine up to $150,000;
    • Felony Criminal Record;
    • Restitution.
  • 3rd Degree: Value of the loss is greater than $500 but less than $75,000
    • 3 to 5 years in a State Prison;
      • A presumption for non-incarceration exists since this is a third degree offense provided the Defendant has no prior criminal history.  
    • Fine up to $15,000;
    • Felony Criminal Record;
    • Restitution.
  • 4th Degree: Value of the loss is greater than $200 but less than $500
    • Up to 18 Months in a State Prison;
      • A presumption for non-incarceration exists since this is a fourth degree offense provided the Defendant has no prior criminal history.  
    • Fine up to $10,000;
    • Felony Criminal Record;
    • Restitution.
  • Disorderly Persons Offense: Value of the loss is less than $200.
    • Up to 6 Months in the Mercer County Jail;
    • Fine up to $1,000;
    • Criminal Record;
    • Restitution.

The presumptions with regards to incarceration that are addressed above can be overcome. In addition, the presumption is with regards to state prison only not with regards to county jail time. Meaning, that if there is a presumption for non-incarceration and that presumption is not overcome by the State, the Judge still has the power to send the Defendant to the Mercer County Jail for up to 364 days.

Will I go to Jail for Bouncing a Check in NJ?

With that being said, New Jersey has created several diversionary programs that a Defendant charged with bad checks might be able to take advantage of. Those programs include the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), the Conditional Dismissal Program and Drug Court. Each one of these programs could afford a Defendant the opportunity to walk away from these charges without serving a day in jail. For more information on these programs please contact our office at (609)789-0779.

Bad Checks Lawyer in Princeton NJ

If you have been accused of passing a bad check, shoplifting, theft of moveable property, eluding, robbery, forgery or any other criminal offense for that matter in Mercer County it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. These are all serious charges and as such require the assistance of an experienced Trenton criminal defense lawyer. The attorneys at Proetta & Oliver are ready and willing to fight to protect your rights. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your options then please contact us directly at (609) 789-0779. We are available around the clock to help  assist in anyway that we can.