Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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What are the penalties for writing a bad check in Georgia?

Many of Georgia's laws, as well as some federal laws, are grounded in moral judgments. This means that these laws carry a presumption that a person should have known the difference between right and wrong and therefore shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place.

But as some of our Atlanta readers are well aware, our state and federal government also have what are called statutory laws. These are based less on moral decision and more on policy. It's these laws that can create the most confusion because it can be difficult sometimes to see when you are breaking the law and when you are not.

One such example of statutory law may be our state's check fraud law, also referred to as deposit account fraud by Georgia statute. In today's post, we're going to look at what defines this criminal offense and hopefully answer this question: what are the penalties for writing a bad check in Georgia?

Check fraud, as you may not know, is governed by O.C.G.A. § 16-9-20. In this section of the Georgia Code, a person may be accused of committing check fraud if they try to deposit a fraudulent check, withdraw funds from an account using a fraudulent check or otherwise try to use a check that is fraudulent in nature.

The penalties associated with committing this crime vary depending on the amount for which the check was written. For example, a fraudulent check that was written for less than $500 is accompanied by a fine of no more than $500 and a prison sentence that cannot exceed 12 months. If the check amount was $1,500 or more, then the holder of that check could face a felony charge, which carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and the chance of a maximum three-year imprisonment.

The importance of good criminal defense

It's important to point out that the presumption of O.C.G.A. § 16-9-20 is that the accused knew the check was fraudulent in nature. Because of this prima-facie evidence, an accused person would need to put forward rather compelling evidence to show they are innocent. Getting help from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has experience handling check fraud cases can be the key to doing this.

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

918 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30306 Phone: 404-692-5168 Fax: 404-872-1622 Atlanta Law Office Map