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Writing bad Checks in Oklahoma

By November 6, 2018January 31st, 2024No Comments

It is surprisingly common for people to write checks even though their bank account does not have enough funds to cover the amount of payment.  Some people intend to rip off others with bad checks. Others assume they will have enough money in their bank account before the check is cashed and clears.  In some cases, individuals intentionally write bad checks on accounts that are closed. Oklahoma has nuanced rules and penalties pertaining to bad checks.


How Oklahoma Handles the Issue of bad Checks

Regardless of the details of the situation, the state of Oklahoma considers the writing of a bad check to be an act of fraud. Writing such a bad check results in stiff punishments under Oklahoma law. The unfortunate truth is intent does not matter in the context of writing bad checks in the Sooner state.  State officials do not care if the individual in question intentionally tried to rip off the party the check was written out to or if he or she honestly thought enough funds were in the checking account from which the check would be drawn.  

The bottom line is writing a bad check is a criminal act.  Intent does not matter one bit. It is the check writer’s responsibility to keep up with his or her bank account.  Unfortunately, plenty of Oklahomans float out checks, assuming they will receive a direct deposit or another form of payment that will cover the amount of the check and end up with a fraud charge.


Oklahoma’s Definition of a bad Check

The state of Oklahoma defines a bad check or a bogus check as a check, electronic funds transfer or order that is not honored due to insufficient funds.  The number of bad checks written and the amount of the check determines whether the individual in question is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. The state of Oklahoma also considers checks drawn on closed accounts as bad when the check is exchanged for money, any form of property or another item of value.  

Furthermore, a check provided as a down payment for something the buyer is taking possession of or a check provided to a landlord as payment for rent is also considered a bad check.  Every Oklahoman should know any time he or she provides a check to another party, it is a promise that the bank will honor the check. Writing a check from a bank account that has insufficient funds makes it impossible for the check to be honored and therefore defrauds the recipient.  

Though plenty of honest people mistakenly write checks for amounts of money that are not in their bank account due to a miscalculation, these individuals are still considered guilty of check fraud.  According to Oklahoma Statute 21 § 1541.4, the failure to pay reparations for a bad check within a 5-day window or any other evidence of fraud transfers the issue to the District Attorney. This is precisely why it is important to pay the individual owed the money along with a returned check fee as soon as it is realized there is insufficient money in the bank account from which the check is to be drawn.


How Oklahoma Punishes Check Fraud

Like most other acts of fraud, the punishment for writing a bad check hinges on the amount of money in question.  For the most part, a bad check written for less than $500 is a misdemeanor. A bad check at this level is punishable by a single year in jail along with a fine upward of $1,000.  A bad check written for an amount between $500 and $1,000 is a felony. A bad check written for an amount in this range is punishable by a fine of $5,000, a year in jail and restitution payments.  A bad check written for $1,000 or more is considered a felony in the state of Oklahoma. Such a check is punishable by upwards of a full decade in prison.

Oklahoma launched a Bogus Check Restitution Program 35 years ago to provide individuals in such a quandary with an avenue to sidestep criminal charges.  However, there is no guarantee you will be provided the opportunity to participate in such a program. The District Attorney’s office determines how your case will proceed.  The program empowers the District Attorneys’ Bogus Check Division to collect the amount of money the check was written for along with bank fees charged to the payee and a $25 fee.  If the check was for an especially large amount of money, it might be possible to take advantage of a binding agreement for installation payments.


Accused of Check Fraud?  Contact an Attorney Right Away

If anyone accuses you of check fraud, your first action should be reaching out to our criminal defense attorney.  Do not attempt to solve this complex legal challenge on your own. Jacqui Ford Law will zealously advocate on your behalf to safeguard your freedom and clear your name.