If you have been accused of check fraud, the best thing you can do is work with an experienced Indianapolis check fraud lawyer who is ready to prove your innocence in court. Check fraud charges often arise because of mistakes, like thinking you had more money in your account than you did. There is no denying that a mistake can make you look bad in the eyes of the law. However, an unintentional blunder is not enough to convict you and send you to jail. You need a fraud attorney who is ready to learn about your situation and defend you in court.
At Hessler Law, our Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers are ready to hear from you. We will take a hard look at the evidence against you and build you the strongest defense possible under the law. Call us today at (317) 886-8800 to schedule a consultation.
Indiana Check Fraud Law
Indiana Code Section 35-43-5-5 outlines the actions that constitute check fraud within the state. You can be charged and convicted of check fraud if you knowingly or intentionally issue or deliver a check, draft, or order on credit for the payment of or to acquire money or property, while you know it will not be paid or honored by the bank or credit institution.
There are multiple ways in which you could be found guilty of this crime, including:
- If you printed a fake check to use, which you knew would not be paid when presented to a bank.
- If you forged the signature on another person’s check knowing it would be canceled by the account owner.
- If you used one of your real checks but you knew you had insufficient funds and the bank or credit organization would deny paying it.
The Difference Between Fraud and a Bounced Check
If at any time you use a check that does not belong to you or you know will not be paid by the bank or credit organization, then you cross the line into fraudulent behavior. However, there may be times you write a bad check and it has nothing to do with fraud. When you live paycheck-to-paycheck and you have to write a check for groceries or to pay the electric bill, there are plenty of times when you are hoping the check does not go through before your next pay day. On occasion, you may run out of luck and have a check bounce. This does not make you guilty of a crime. Check fraud requires there to be intent to defraud another person or business. When you write a check to pay a utility bill, your worry about sufficient funds is not the same as intending to send a false check that will never be paid.
If you do bounce a check, the best way to handle the situation is to correct it with the bank or business as soon as possible. If you show the relevant parties that you always intended to pay and still do, it is unlikely you will be charged with fraud. However, if you are accused of a crime, contact us at Hessler Law right away.
Statutory Punishments for a Check Fraud Conviction
The charge and punishment for check fraud depends on the value of the money or property you fraudulently obtained. At its most basic level, check fraud is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
However, if the amount of the check was between $750 and $50,000, then you will be charged with a Level 6 felony, punishable by six months to 2.5 years of incarceration and a fine up to $10,000. If the amount of the check was $50,000 or more, then the crime is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years of imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
You may also be required to pay restitution to the victims of your check fraud. The court can require you to pay back the amount of money or property you fraudulently obtained, as well as any fees or other financial damage you caused your victims. Along with the criminal fines and court costs, a conviction for check fraud can be extremely expensive and put you and your family is a devastating financial situation.
If you are found guilty of check fraud, you will have a permanent criminal record with a misdemeanor or felony on it. This can make it extremely hard to move on with your life after you fulfill your statutory punishments. With a fraud conviction in your background, you may have a tough time getting a job. Employers may not want you near cash registers, the business’s financial information, or customer’s credit cards. This can keep you out of more positions than you might think. It can make it difficult to get an entry-level position in retail or food service. If you have a greater amount of education or experience, it can hold you back from a higher position with a company’s finance or human resources departments.
A criminal record with a conviction can also make it difficult to get into college, be approved for an apartment, obtain loans, and more. Unfortunately, even after you pay your debt to society, your past will hold you back.
An Indianapolis Check Fraud Lawyer is Here to Defend You
There are many potential defenses to check fraud. One of the strongest defenses to check fraud is that you rectified the situation as soon as you knew about it. For instance, if your check was returned due to insufficient funds, you were notified by the intended recipient, and then you paid the recipient the full amount as well as any fees, then you will not be convicted of fraud.
Additionally, under the law, you do not commit a crime if the intended recipient of the check knows you do not have sufficient funds at the time you wrote it, the check is postdated, or if you ended up having insufficient funds because of the bank or credit institution’s actions that you were unaware of. If there was an honest mistake that led to these charges, the Indianapolis check fraud lawyers of Hessler Law are ready to prove this to the court.
If you made a poor judgment call, we understand and are ready to help. We know that financial distress can cause you to do things you normally would not and we do not believe you deserve to face a harsh punishment for one slip up. Call Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.