Theft By Check or Hot Check | Understanding Criminal Charges In Texas
Managing money can sometimes be very challenging. Many people come very close to overdrawing their bank accounts, and some people even do. When a check is issued while there are insufficient funds on deposit to cover the amount written on the check, it is considered issuing a bad check. However, using a bad check to steal something is theft by check. If you are being accused of stealing, or writing a hot check in Texas, you should take a moment to understand precisely what the charges are against you. These two crimes are very similar, and are often confused.
Issuing Bad Checks in Texas – Equates Theft
When a person writes a check to pay for something, knowing that there are insufficient funds on deposit to cover the amount written on the check, it is considered an act of writing a “bad check” and it is against the law. Issuing a bad check is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas.
Issuing a bad check requires that the issuer have knowledge that there were insufficient funds. This can include knowingly writing a bad check, as well as failing to provide sufficient funds to the bank within ten days of being notified that a check was returned, or bounced, due to insufficient funding. When a bank provides notice to the issuer of the bad check, that notice may either be actual notice, or written notice sent by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested. The written notice must be addressed to the issuer of the bad check and the notice must be sent to the issuer’s address as it appears on the face of the check, the address of the issuer that the bank has on file, or any address that the recipient of the bad check has for the issuer of the bad check.
The notice must contain a statement indicating the demand for payment, including a 10-day window from the time of receipt of the notice within which the issuer has to comply with the notice. The notice must also include an explanation that failure to comply with the notice creates a presumption that a crime was committed and that appropriate legal action will be taken if the issuer is unresponsive.
Theft by Check
Theft by check is similar to the crime of issuing a bad check, except when a bad check is issued by a person having the intent to steal property and a bad check is the instrumentality for committing the crime of theft, it is considered theft by check. When the check value is between $20 and $500 dollars, it is a Class B misdemeanor, and when the check value is less than $20, it is a Class C misdemeanor.
Theft by Check can happen in one of two ways: either the issuer of the bad check writes a check from a bank where he or she does not have an account, or the issuer fails to provide sufficient funds to the bank within ten days of being notified that a check was returned, or bounced, due to insufficient funding. Notification as to the insufficient funds follows the same procedure as notification under issuing a bad check.
Knowing the Difference Between These Crimes is Important –
If you have been accused of either issuing a bad check or theft by check, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. You might be accused of theft by check when really you accidentally wrote a check when you had insufficient funds to cover it. The prosecution has to prove that you had knowledge of the insufficient funds or the intent to steal at the time of issuing the bad check, which can be difficult to do.
When faced with charges relating to the inappropriate use of checks, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Giles & Giles to help defend you. We understand that mistakes happen, and sometimes people exercise poor judgment. We will never hold that against you. We believe that everyone deserves the legal protections afforded to them by the law, and that the prosecution has a burden to meet before you can be convicted of a crime, such as theft. We will work hard arrive at the best possible outcome for you in your case.