Sec 476(a) of the California Penal Code is considered violated with the following illegal acts:

a) Writing and/or passing a check;
b) Knowing there are insufficient funds in the bank account to cover the full amount of the check;
c) The intent in writing the check was to defraud another individual;

There are many ways this offense is committed. This includes writing a check for an already closed bank account and attempting to cash a check on an account that is already overdrawn. The following are the elements of the crime:

a) The individual willfully writes, delivers or attempts to use a check;
b) The individual had full knowledge that there were insufficient amount of funds to pay for the check issued or used;
c) There was intent to defraud the recipient of the check.

There are good faith defenses to this criminal act. This includes post-dating the check, informing the recipient of the check that there are no sufficient funds in the bank account, good faith knowledge that there were sufficient funds in the check and bank errors.

This offense is a wobbler, meaning it can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or felony offense. There are two facts that determine how this crime is to be prosecuted and these two facts are the factual circumstances of the offense and accused’s criminal history.

When convicted for a misdemeanor offense, the imposable penalty is up to one year in county jail and payment of a fine up to $1,000. For a felony conviction, the imposable prison time is up to three years in state prison and payment of a maximum fine of $10,000.

Aside from the criminal penalties, the payee of the check has the right to seek payment for the full amount of the check together with damages at a maximum amount of $1,500.

The crime of issuing bad checks is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.