Defending against Check Fraud Charges—Illinois Check Fraud Defense Lawyer
In Illinois, check fraud can encompass a variety of fraudulent activities, such as writing a check from an account holding insufficient funds or a closed account. It can also be crime for individuals to possess fraudulently obtained checks. For many people charged with check fraud, it is their first brush with the law. Understandably, a charge of check fraud can be frightening, as it carries the potential for a felony conviction and significant prison time, depending on the value of the check. Illinois law bases the punishment of the offender on the fraudulent check’s amount. Check fraud cases are often complex and involve an intricate analysis of motives, financials, and intent. Those facing charges of check fraud will need the assistance of a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney with the knowledge and experience to fight the charge to the fullest extent.Aggressive Defense against Bad Check Allegations
Attorney David L. Freidberg has decades of experience representing those accused of all forms of check fraud. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. employs the most professional and effective attorneys, staff, and experts to defend your charges with unmatched zeal. Our law firm has successfully obtained acquittals for hundreds of check fraud cases, had charges dismissed early on for lack of evidence, and negotiated favorable plea deals involving only misdemeanor convictions and no jail time.Check Fraud in Illinois Defined
The crime of check fraud is set out in 720 ILCS 5/17-1, entitled, “Deceptive Practices.” The statute defines three distinct crimes. First, it sets out the crime of General Deception. A person is guilty of general deception when, with intent to defraud, they:
- Knowingly cause another, by deception or threat, to execute a document disposing of property or a document which creates a pecuniary obligation; or
- Being an officer or other person participating in the direction of a financial institution, he or she knowingly receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or investment, knowing the institution is insolvent; or
- He or she knowingly makes a false or deceptive statement to the public for the purpose of promoting the sale of property or services.
The crime of Bad Checks occurs when:
- With intent to obtain control over property or to pay for property, services, and the like, an individual issues or delivers a check or other order upon real or fictitious depository for the payment of the money, knowing it will not be paid by the depository. Intent to defraud will be inferred when the defendant fails to have sufficient funds or credit with the depository when the check is issued or when it is presented for payment and dishonored on each of two occasions, at least seven days a part; or
- The individual issues or delivers a check in an amount exceeding $150 knowing it will not be paid by the depository and thereafter fails to provide funds or credit with the depository within seven days of receiving notice of the depository’s dishonor of the check.
720 ILCS 5/17-1 goes on to describe the crime of Bank-related Fraud, which encompasses, in relevant part, “Possession of stolen or fraudulently obtained checks.” This crime is committed when an individual possesses, transfers, negotiates, or presents for payment a stolen or fraudulent check with the intent to obtain access to funds of another person. The account holder who claims the check was not authorized may be required to submit an affidavit with the financial institution.
Lastly, 720 ILCS 5/17-1 makes it a crime to possess the implements of check fraud, such as a check imprinter or signature imprinter.
Check fraud charges can also fall under the crimes of embezzlement (720 ILCS 5/16-1) and forgery ( 720 ILCS 5/17-3).Common Check Fraud Crimes
Some of the most commonly charged forms of check fraud include:
- Passing bad checks— many people have written bad checks at some point over their lifetimes. Writing a check without sufficient funds to cover it can constitute a criminal offense.
- Using forged checks— the passing of a forged check, or the alteration or amendment to a check, such as endorsing it to you, can constitute forgery or bank fraud.
- Kiting checks— this is a scheme involving writing checks in increasing amounts as they are run through multiple bank accounts so that offender obtains funds in excess of what they have in the bank.
- Check floating— it is common for people to write checks for anticipated funds that are not yet in one’s bank account. Although this is often routine and necessary for some, it can result in a felony conviction.
Under 720 ILCS 5/17-1, the commission of a “deceptive practice” will generally be considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. The law sets out several exceptions that will upgrade the offense to Class 4 felony, however. For instance, if the value of the property obtained exceeds $150, whether in a single transaction or a 90 day period, the crime will be considered a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Further, if the offender is charged with a second or subsequent offense, the crime will be considered a Class 4 felony. Accordingly, this offense which starts as a misdemeanor can quickly turn into a felony charge.
If your check fraud crime falls under the definitions of forgery or embezzlement, you will likely face felony charges and possible jail time. Felony convictions will become a part of your permanent record and be accessible by employers nationwide.Civil Liability
The victims of check fraud additionally have the right to seek redress by way of civil litigation. A civil court verdict can require you pay up to triple the amount of the bad check, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.Effective Defenses against Check Fraud
An experienced check fraud defense attorney can raise a variety of defenses against the charge. Some of the most common include:
- Lack of knowledge —a conviction for bad checks requires that you issue a check from your account knowing it does not have sufficient funds. If you were not aware your account lacked sufficient funds, a conviction cannot stand.
- Lack of intent— the crime of check fraud requires the element of intent to defraud. If you planned to have the funds available and did not intend to pass a bad check, then you cannot be found guilty of the crime of check fraud.
- Identity theft— in some cases, you may actually have been a victim of identity theft, in which another individual has forged your name on a check.
For over 20 years, Chicago based defense attorney David L. Freidberg has provided the highest quality of criminal defense to individuals charged with the crime of check fraud. The highly skilled attorney team at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. has an intricate knowledge of the law and defenses surrounding the broad charge of check fraud. We will uncover any and all exculpatory evidence or legal loopholes to mount the strongest possible defense. Contact us today at (312) 560-7100, or toll free at 1 (800) 803-1442, to schedule your free consultation today. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.