This page of our website focuses on bad check violations under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. A bad check charge falls within the category of forgery and fraudulent practices as a fundamental element of the offense is knowledge of a deception, namely, that the check, money order or electronic transfer (e.g. wire transfer) was bad when it was conveyed. In addition, while this offense is frequently issued by itself, it is not uncommon to find it in cases that also involve forgery, theft by deception and theft of services. There are numerous problems that arise from being convicted for a bad check offense, including the fact that you will have a criminal record for attempting to steal. If you are interested in learning how we can help you avoid a record and the penalties that come with a N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5 conviction, call us 24/7 at 973-710-1520.

What You Need To Know About The NJ Bad Check Law

If you are facing a bad check offense in Nutley, Montclair, Livingston, Verone or another municipality in Essex County, or even at the Newark NJ Super Court, there are a few things you want to know. The following are the basics of a bad check violation in New Jersey:

How Serious Is The Charge? The penalties that apply under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5 depend on the amount of the bad check. If the check, money order or electronic transfer is more than $75,000, then the offense is a second degree crime. Checks with a value of at least $1,000 but less than $75,000 are third degree crimes. It is a fourth degree crime to pass a bad check with a value of $200 to $999. Checks of less than $200 are disorderly persons offenses.

Elements of the Offense. In order to sustain its burden of proof under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, the state must establish two (2) elements. First, the defendant must have knowingly issued or passed a check for the payment of money. Second, it must be shown that the defendant knew, when the check was issued, that it would not be honored by the drawee. In terms of the second element, i.e., “knowledge”, there are several presumptions under 2C:21-5. There is a presumption that the defendant knew the check or money order would not be paid if the issuer had no account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued. There is also a presumption that the issuer had knowledge if a payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds or due to a closed account within forty-six days of issuance of the check and the issuer fails to make good within ten days after receiving notice of the refusal.

Postdated Checks. A postdated check cannot give rise to a bad check conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5. The reason for this rule stems from the fact that, by definition, a postdated check is a stipulation, when written, that there are insufficient funds to cover it and/or some other condition to its validity. There is no theft when the recipient possesses this knowledge.

Relationship to Theft & Forgery Charges. If someone is charged with theft and a bad check violation arising out of the same incident, an individual cannot be subject to the penalties for both upon conviction. The two convictions merge. The same is not true in the case of a forgery charge, however, as the elements of the offenses are different.

Penalties for Passing or Writing a Bad Check

The penalties that apply in the event of conviction escalate based on the degree of crime charged. A second degree bad check violation carries a maximum fine of $150,000 and five (5) to ten (10) years of incarceration. Third degree bad check offenses involve up to five (5) years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. A disorderly persons offense for passing/writing a bad check results in up to six (6) months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, is one of the largest criminal defense firms in the state and we handle bad check charges throughout Essex County NJ. If you have been accused of passing or issuing a bad check, our former prosecutors know the best ways to help you fight these charges.