Check Fraud

What is Check Fraud?

There are two charges in the State of Washington involving check fraud: (1) unlawful issuance of checks or drafts and (2) financial fraud.

Unlawful Issuance of Checks or Drafts:

According to RCW §9A.56.060, a person is guilty of unlawful issuance of checks or drafts if he:

  1. With the intent to defraud, makes, draws, utters, or delivers to another person any check or draft for the payment of money, knowing at the time that he has insufficient funds to pay the check or draft in full upon its presentation; or
  2. With the intent to defraud, makes, draws, utters, or delivers to another person any check or draft for the payment of money and subsequently issues a stop-payment order directing the bank not to honor the check. The offender has 20 days after the issuance of the bad check to arrange for another form of payment, after which he has committed unlawful issuance of checks or drafts.

It is important to note that the delivery of a check under either of the above circumstances creates a presumption that there was an intent to defraud. The defendant has to prove otherwise.

Penalties for Unlawful Issuance of Checks or Drafts in Washington:

According to RCW §9A.56.060, there are two ways to classify the charge of unlawful issuance of checks or drafts:

  1. Unlawful issuance of a bank check in an amount greater than $750 is considered a class C felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.
  2. Unlawful issuance of a bank check in an amount of $750 or less is considered a gross misdemeanor and shall be punished as follows:
    1. The court shall order the defendant to make full restitution;
    2. The defendant need not be imprisoned, but the court shall impose a fine of up to $1,125. Of the fine imposed, at least $375 or an amount equal to 150% of the amount of the bank check, whichever is greater, shall not be suspended or deferred. Upon conviction for a second offense within any twelve-month period, the court may not suspend or defer any portion of the fine.
Financial Fraud:

The crime of financial fraud is discussed in greater detail in another section. According to RCW §9A.56.320, one form of financial fraud occurs when a person unlawfully possesses or produces a payment instrument (such as check) which uses the name, account number or routing number of another individual or entity without that party's permission. Financial fraud can also be charged when a person uses the information of a fictitious entity on a check that is being passed off as legitimate.

Penalties for Financial Fraud in Washington:

Financial fraud is a class C felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Defending a Check Fraud Charge:

A person can easily be charged with check fraud as a result of a simple mistake, such as the accidental use of an old checkbook that is no longer valid, or underestimating how much is in his or her account. Your defense strategy is crucial, and the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.