There are generally two types of “bad checks.” The first type is the kind that is “payable on demand” meaning that it is expected that the bank will honor the check when it is presented. This is the most common type of bad check. When you write a check that the recipient believes is “payable on demand,” and the check is returned for Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF), you may have committed a criminal act. Depending on the amount of the bad check written, a person can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony. Even if you later make payment on the check there may be criminal charges or substantial fees and/or fines.
A NSF “payable on demand” check is not dischargeable in bankruptcy and bankruptcy will not exonerate you of a criminal act. The bankruptcy automatic stay does not apply to stop criminal prosecutions. Likewise, any debt to the victim of the bad check is now considered criminal restitution, also not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Any restitution, costs, and fines are not discharged by the bankruptcy.
While criminal prosecution of a bad check case is not affected by your bankruptcy, private collection is stopped by your bankruptcy. Any civil legal action concerning a bad check must stop, and any civil garnishment or other collection action must cease.
The second type of bad check is the post-dated check. These checks include payday loans and other checks that are essentially promises to pay in the future. You and the receiver are aware that the check is not presently negotiable. The bank will not pay the check because you don’t presently have the money in your account.
With a few narrow exceptions, being unable to pay a post-dated check is not a criminal act. However, it may be a crime to write a post-dated check that you intend to include in your bankruptcy. Typically the recipient of the post-dated check would have to file an adversary case with the bankruptcy court and prove that you committed fraud in writing the check with no intention to ever pay it.
If you have outstanding bad checks and are considering bankruptcy, discuss your situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The attorneys at Freedom Law Firm can advise you on the best way to deal with a bad check during your bankruptcy. Contact us today for a free consultation.