Signing a checkThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against bad check charges in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post discussed common defenses against bad check charges. For instance, if the defendant did not know that they had insufficient funds to cover a check when it was written or a post-dated check was cashed prior to the agreed-upon time, it may be possible to present evidence in support of such facts in their defense. It is important to understand that evidence must be properly submitted in legal proceedings. Individuals facing such charges should retain defense counsel to help ensure that their case is handled properly. In this article, I will address how residents may resolve their bad check charge and avoid criminal prosecution through Illinois’ Check Enforcement Program. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.

Illinois law establishes an alternative to criminal prosecution in certain bad check cases. Under some circumstances, the State’s attorney may recommend that an offender be diverted to the Check Enforcement Program rather than criminally prosecuted. If so, the prosecutor will enter an agreement with the defendant that criminal charges will be dismissed after a period of time or that the case will not be charged if the accused complies with the program’s requirements. These include paying full restitution for the bad check, including any fees incurred by the recipient, paying a program administrative fee, and completing a check writer’s educational course. Compliance with the requirements gives the accused the opportunity to avoid conviction and potentially serious criminal penalties. Failure to meet all of the requirements may result in the prosecution of the offense.

Whether a case is diverted to the Check Enforcement Program is in the prosecutor’s discretion. Factors such as the amount of the check that was passed, prior referrals to the program, the existence of other pending criminal charges, and the reason the check was dishonored could impact the recommendation. For example, a repeat offender with a history of passing bad checks to multiple recipients or attempting to issue checks for large amounts of money will likely be handled through traditional law enforcement channels. It is also important to note that more serious criminal offenses, such as check forgery, passing stolen checks, or making false statements to financial institutions will not be handled through the diversion program and will likely be criminally prosecuted.

In light of the consequences of a criminal conviction for bad checks, participating in the Check Enforcement Program is often a preferable option for residents accused of such offenses. It is imperative, however, to understand your obligations and comply with the applicable requirements. An experienced attorney can assist you through the process. In addition to Peoria, we also serve clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington and the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. Areas where we handle federal cases include Peoria, Springfield, Champaign, Rock Island.