Check fraud offenses are serious white collar crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. These crimes are aggressively prosecuted, and the punishment upon conviction can be a jail or prison sentence. In addition, a conviction can result in a permanent criminal record. If you have been arrested for check fraud, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fairfax to help you build the right defense strategy for your case.
Issuing Bad Checks
Writing a check with insufficient funds in a bank account to pay it is a crime in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-181, it is illegal for an individual, with the intent to defraud, to make or deliver a check knowing that there are insufficient funds in a bank account to cover it.
The prosecutor must prove the intent to defraud, which can be difficult to establish. However, under Virginia Code § 18.2-183, the intent to defraud can be presumed if one of these situations:
- The person wrote the check from a bank where he did not have an account.
- The person did not pay the full amount owed within five days of receiving a certified letter notifying him that the check had bounced.
Issuing a bad check can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount of the bad check. If convicted, a person can face these punishments:
- Misdemeanor. If the bad check is less than $500, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The sentence can include up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
- Felony. When the bounced check is for $500 or more, the crime is a Class 6 felony. The punishment can include a prison sentence of up to five years and a $2,500 fine.
Check Forging and Uttering
Check forgery and uttering are offenses under Virginia Code § 18.2-170. The crime of check forgery can be committed if a person makes or alters a false check with the intent to defraud. This can include making fake checks, forging another person’s signature on a check, or altering or using a check without permission. Uttering a check is the using of a check that a person knows is forged.
Check forgery and uttering are Class 4 felonies regardless of the amount of the forged or uttered check. The penalty can include a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Possession of a Forged Check
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-173, it is a crime to possess a forged check with the intent to utter it or give it to someone else who will then utter it. It is charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor if the person possesses less than 10 forged checks and as a Class 6 felony if he has 10 or more in his possession. The sentences upon conviction of a Class 3 misdemeanor is a fine not to exceed $500. If convicted of a Class 6 felony, the punishment may be up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
We Can Help You Mount a Strong Defense to the Check Fraud Charges You Face
Besides the severe punishments you face if convicted of a check fraud crime, you will have a permanent criminal record. This can significantly limit your employment opportunities if prospective employers conduct a criminal background check and discover your check fraud convictions. In addition, a criminal record can affect your ability to obtain housing, loans, security clearance, and more.
Given the long-term consequences of a conviction, you cannot afford to take check fraud charges lightly. You need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
At Greenspun Shapiro PC, our dedicated lawyers have decades of experience defending clients who were charged with check fraud and other serious fraud crimes in Fairfax and Northern Virginia. We can help you mount an aggressive defense to the charges you face so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. This may be true even if you believe that you are guilty. Call our office or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team to learn more about how we can assist you.