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I accidentally wrote a bad check! What will happen?

What may happen by issuing a bad check in New York can depend on a lot of factors. Issuing a bad check can result in you charges of violating New York Penal Law 109.05. That is a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you can receive a sentence of up to 90 days of incarceration and have to pay a fine.

You can also lose a professional license which can implicate your livelihood even if your employer would not choose to terminate you. As such, although “just” a misdemeanor, you will want to address it immediately if you receive notice of charges against you.

The state must prove certain elements

Typically, a court may find you guilty of this charge if the state proves that you gave a check to someone while knowing that you did not have sufficient funds to cover it. You have to have had a belief, when you passed the check, that when the person you gave it to goes to cash or deposit it, that it will bounce and the bank will refuse it. That check then has to, in fact, bounce.

Assumptions against you

The court will generally assume, and legally can, that if you had insufficient funds in your account, that you knew about it. Also, if you wrote a check on an account that simply did not exist, the assumption is that you intended to commit this crime.

Defenses to affirmatively plead in your answer

There are a few defenses, however, that you must affirmatively plead to get the benefit of. For instance, if you made good on the check within 10 days after the bank decline it due to lack of funds, you may have a defense.

Also, if you wrote the check on behalf of an employer, with signing authority, and were to receive no benefit yourself for passing the check and were only following orders, you may use that as an affirmative defense.

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