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November 27, 2023

Consequences of Writing a Bad Check in South Carolina

greenville sc criminal defense lawyer bad checks

Between juggling the demands of work, family, and social life, it can be hard to stay on top of the details sometimes. Many of us have our paychecks automatically deposited into our checking accounts, and we use ATM cards or credit cards to make many of our purchases.

For many people, balancing a checkbook is a skill they never learned, and even those who are masters at balancing their accounts down to the penny can occasionally run into problems when money they expected to be in their accounts is not there.

Unfortunately, giving someone a bad check to cover products, bills, or expenses can result in serious criminal charges, as well as fines and a potentially damaging criminal record.

If you are facing charges or have received notices concerning bad checks, you need a strong criminal defense attorney to defend you against charges of fraud and to protect your record, as well as your name and reputation.  

Writing Worthless Checks

Handling financial matters is a skill, and some people are better at it than others. Writing worthless checks could result from a banking error or mix up, or could result from miscalculations in terms of math or budgeting.

It is not uncommon for people facing difficult financial circumstances to write a check, thinking the money will be there by the time the check clears the bank. When that money fails to materialize, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble.

In Greenville County, the Office of the Solicitor for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit used to operate the Worthless Check Program. Until June 2021, this program handled collection efforts for worthless checks on behalf of the people who have received them.

After some changes, South Carolina’s fraudulent check law now handles the following:

  • Checks returned by the bank due to insufficient funds
  • Checks in which the account the check was drawn on is closed
  • Checks in which a stop payment order was made
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If you are contacted by a solicitor’s office in regards to a worthless check, it is important to make payment on the check as soon as possible to avoid criminal charges. Payments should be made directly to the solicitor’s office, and not to the person who you originally wrote the check.

Prosecuting a Worthless Check

If you are the victim of a worthless check after June 2021, consider following these steps to proceed under the fraudulent check law in South Carolina:

Send a Certified Letter

After the check is returned, send a certified letter to the address printed on the check or to an alternative address provided by the writer of the check within 10 days.

The notice should provide the following information:

  • The number of the check
  • To whom the check was made payable to
  • The date the check was written
  • The bank on which it was drawn
  • The amount of the check
  • The bank’s reasoning for payment refusal
  • A warning that a full payment with a $30 charge must be completed within 10 days from the date the notice was mailed and that neglecting to complete a full payment may result in you filing prosecution with the criminal court

File Charges

If you don’t receive a response from the check writer within 10 days of mailing your certified letter, you may proceed with filing charges. When you contact your magistrate, provide copied proof of the check that was returned, the receipt from the certified letter and the outcome of the certified letter.

Keep in mind that you cannot file a prosecution under the fraudulent check statute if you accepted the check post-dated or if it’s over 120 days old. To find more information, you can view the entire code section 34-11-60 on the South Carolina Courts website.

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Is Writing a Bad Check a Felony in South Carolina?

Being accused of writing a fraudulent check is a more serious matter. Under the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 34-11-60, you could be facing criminal charges of fraud in the following circumstances:

  • Writing a check on a non-existent account
  • Writing a check on an account for which you are not authorized
  • Using an incorrect or insufficient signature when signing a check
  • Writing a check on an account with insufficient funds

What Is the Charge for Writing a Bad Check?

Penalties for writing a fraudulent check vary based on both the amount of the check, as well as the existence of any prior convictions. A first offense is punishable by fines ranging from $50 to $500 and as much as thirty days in jail. Repeat offenders may face fines as much as $2,000 and anywhere from 30 days to 10 years in jail.

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Are you facing criminal charges after writing a fraudulent or worthless check? Get the legal representation you need from Lauren Taylor Law. We can help you follow the best course of action in a legal predicament. To get started, schedule an initial consultation today!

writing a worthless check law in sc