Pen on top of a checkThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against bad check charges in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post provided an overview of the topics which I will discuss throughout this series. It also stressed the seriousness of such charges. Failing to respond quickly and appropriately after being accused of issuing a bad check could result in criminal penalties that have a lasting impact on one’s life. In this article, I will discuss what it means to issue a bad check under Illinois law. If you need assistance with such matters, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to help ensure that your interests are protected. Contact my office today to speak with an attorney.

For many Illinois residents, financial hardship is a reality that impacts their ability to pay for their bills or for other goods or services provided by third parties. When money is not available, some attempt to “float” a check hoping that it won’t be cashed until payday or some other source of funds becomes available to cover the amount. Many mistakenly believe that passing a bad check is a private matter between the writer and the recipient. It is considered a criminal offense, however, under 720 ILCS 5/17-1(B) to issue or deliver a check or other order for the payment of money to a third party when the writer knows that it will not be paid by the bank upon which it was issued. This means that “floating” a check with the knowledge that there are insufficient funds in one’s account to cover the payment is a deceptive practice, which is a crime. If a check is under $150, and the check is dishonored twice by the bank for payment, each seven days apart, the writer will have violated the statute. If a check is over $150 and the writer does not provide funds to cover the amount owed within seven days, they may be charged with passing a bad check. This statute does not apply to bank-related fraud such as forging checks or attempting to use stolen checks in financial transactions, which is separately addressed under Illinois law.

Violations of the bad check statute may result in serious criminal and civil penalties. First-time offenders whose check is less than $150 will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face probation, possible incarceration of up to one year, and fines of up to $2,500. Subsequent violations or those involving one or more checks totaling more than $150 within a period of 90 days will be charged as a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by probation, between one and three years in jail, and fines of up to $25,000. Having a criminal record can impact one’s ability to maintain professional licenses, find employment and housing, or qualify for credit. In addition to the criminal consequences, offenders are generally required to pay their victim restitution for the amount owed as well as punitive damages equal to three times the bad check amount up to $1,500 plus attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Issuing bad checks, even those that seem like minor infractions, can result in significant and long-term consequences. It is imperative to consult with an attorney to ensure that you respond to such charges appropriately and that your case is handled properly. My office has experience with bad check defense cases and is ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a Peoria lawyer. 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.