The Calvert County State’s Attorney’s Office has developed the Bad Check Unit in order to provide merchants and receivers of bad checks a quick and effective way to recover their losses, to help identify repeat offenders and concentrate prosecution efforts on those individuals and to lessen the burden on the court system while producing a successful result for merchants and victims. With your cooperation, we can succeed.
What is a Bad Check?
The law dealing with bad checks is found in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 27, Section 140 et seq. Simply put, a bad check is created whenever a person provides goods and/or services to another who in return gives a check for payment which later proves to be worthless.
There are three different ways in which the violation of this law can occur. They are: insufficient funds, closed accounts and stop payments. Although any of these situations will result in not getting paid for your goods or services, there are differences between each term that you must understand when filing criminal charges. In order to determine which term applies, look at the check to see how it is returned.
Before You Can Activate the Program
In order to effectively process and/or prosecute offenders under the laws governing Bad Checks in the state of Maryland the State’s Attorney’s Office has adopted the following procedures for filing complaints:
- If the check is returned “NSF” or “Refer to Maker,” it must be less than one year old and tendered in Calvert County for the exchange of something of value. You must notify the check writer by certified mail, return receipt, and give 10 days to make the check good. If no payment is received you can activate the Bad Check Program.
- If the check has been returned marked “Closed Account” or “No Account”, you can consider this to be a theft of your goods and/or services.
- If a check has a “Stop Payment” order issued against it you must be able to prove the check was written with intent, at the time of presentment, to stop payment.
- In many cases “Stop Payment” checks must be handled through a civil suit.
- You must provide complete identification including the check writer’s address, phone number and driver’s license number in order for the case to be prosecuted.
- You should be aware that the purpose of the law does not include the arbitration or prosecution of civil matters involving disputes over workmanship, faulty products or landlord tenant matters.
- Remember that bringing unwarranted criminal charges could result in civil liability.
How to Activate the Program
- If payment was not received within 10 days of your certified mailing, contact the State’s Attorney’s Office.
- Provide a completed worksheet, copies of the front and back of the check(s), a copy of your letter, and a copy of the certified receipt.
- If the check qualifies, the State’s Attorney’s Office will send a letter to the check writer giving them 10 days for the check and any additional fees to be paid. A copy will be mailed to you.
- If you do not receive payment by the date in our letter, you must go to the office of the District Court Commissioner and take out criminal charges. Be sure to bring copies of all prior correspondence.
- When the defendant is served with the charging documents either by arrest warrant or summons, you will receive a subpoena from the District Court of Maryland to appear for trial.
- If at any time payment is made directly to you, please notify the Bad Check Unit immediately.
- Remember, your case will not be set for trial until the defendant is served with the charges. The mailing address of the defendant which you provide may have much to do with determining the timeliness of your court date.
May fees in Addition to the Face Value of the Check be Recovered?
In addition to the amount of the check, you may be able to recoup a collection fee up to $25.00 per check.
What Steps May be Taken to Avoid a Bad Check?
- Examine the check carefully, make sure all items are completed and correct.
- Obtain as much information from a valid driver’s license or state ID as possible, and write it down.
- Compare the picture ID to the person writing the check.
- Avoid taking checks where the name on the ID is different from the name on the check.
- Avoid cashing third-party checks, payroll checks and two-party insurance checks.
- If the address on the check is different from the address on the ID, write it down.
- If you accept a business check, make sure the signature on the check can be read. Criminal charges are brought against a person, not a business.
- For a Maryland Driver’s License, the letter which precedes the soundex number should be the same as the first letter in the check writer’s last name. If it doesn’t match, refuse the check.