While it may not seem like a serious offense, check fraud can have severe consequences. In Florida, this crime can be filed as a felony, resulting in huge fines and time spent in state prison. If you have been charged with check fraud, you are likely worried about the consequences that could follow a conviction. Sarasota theft lawyer Erika Valcarcel understands the turmoil that can arise in these situations. With years spent as both a prosecutor and a defender, she knows how the prosecution operates and what you are up against. In order to craft the best possible defense to your check fraud charges, she’ll vehemently advocate on your behalf, whether it involves pointing out improper procedures or conducting an independent investigation.
Call (941) 363-7900 today to see how your charges can be reduced or eliminated, if possible.
Florida Check Fraud Charges
According to Section 832.05 of Florida Statutes, check fraud occurs when an individual, in order to obtain a service or goods, writes a check with the knowledge that there is not enough money in their account to cover the purchase. This crime is also committed if similar action is taken with the use of a money order, debit card, or any commercial paper that might be used for purchases. Thankfully, Florida law enforcement does not issue check fraud charges every time a check bounces after a purchase. This accusation is only applied to those who knew there were insufficient funds in their account at the time of the check issuance.
Penalties and Collateral Consequences
The severity of the fraud charges brought against an individual depends entirely on the amount of money the check falsely represented. When the amount listed on the check is less than $150, the crime is filed as a first-degree misdemeanor, whereas a check for an amount of more than $150 is classified as a third-degree felony. Criminal sentences include, but are not limited to:
- First Degree Misdemeanor: A fine of up to $1,000 and up to 1 year in jail
- Third Degree Felony: A fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in prison
There are also collateral consequences of a conviction that can haunt you for life. Starting a career once you are released, for example, might be all but impossible. Few employers jump at the chance to hire someone with a criminal record. Your attempts to continue your education might also be stifled, as most colleges and universities vet applicants before admitting them. What’s more, most scholarships are off-limits to those with conviction histories.
Let Valcarcel Protect Your Freedom
With the help of a skilled lawyer, it may be possible to get your charges reduced or thrown out in court. One of the most effective defenses in check fraud cases is proving that you were unaware of your account’s low balance. A transaction may have gone through automatically, or perhaps a joint account holder withdrew money unexpectedly. There are an infinite number of reasons that could explain your lack of criminal intent. It might also be the case that you did not obtain any items or services during the transaction. If you did not receive anything in exchange for the check, no crime has been committed.
A check fraud charge can undoubtedly have a negative impact on your life. Your family might not be able to survive if you are sent to prison, and your career might be completely destroyed. Sarasota theft lawyer Erika Valcarcel of Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. understands the havoc this accusation can wreak. She believes the best way to defend you in court is by first listening to your side of the story. Once every detail has been uncovered, your case can be presented in the best possible light.
Call (941) 363-7900 now to for a free and confidential consultation.