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Writing Worthless Checks Criminal Charges in Illinois
Writing a check when there are insufficient funds to cover the amount is not only financially irresponsible but can also carry criminal consequences. In Illinois, this action is commonly referred to as “writing a worthless check” or “writing a bad check.” Here’s a detailed look into the criminal charges associated with this action in Illinois, based on state statutes.
Illinois Writing a Worthless Check Statutes
In Illinois, writing a worthless check falls under the Deceptive Practices Act. The relevant statute can be found under 720 ILCS 5/17-1(B).
Definition of the Offense
According to the Illinois statute:
- A person commits deceptive practices when they knowingly issue or deliver a check or other order upon a real or fictitious depository for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be paid by the depository.
- The issuer’s knowledge that the check would not be paid may be inferred if:
- The issuer had no account with the depository at the time they issued the check, or
- Payment was refused by the depository for lack of funds, and the issuer failed to pay the check amount within 7 days of receiving notice of that refusal.
Penalties for Writing a Worthless Check in Illinois
The penalties for writing a worthless check in Illinois are as follows:
- Value Less than $150: A first offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, while subsequent offenses become Class 4 felonies.
- Value More than $150: This is a Class 4 felony.
It’s essential to note that penalties can be enhanced based on previous criminal records, and multiple offenses within a 90-day period with combined values exceeding $150 can be aggregated and charged as one Class 4 felony.
There are several defenses that can be raised against charges of writing worthless checks:
- Lack of Knowledge: If the accused can show that they believed there were sufficient funds in the account when the check was issued, this could serve as a defense.
- Post-Dated Checks: If the check was post-dated and the recipient knew that it was post-dated, it cannot be used as evidence of deceptive practices.
- Stop Payment: If the drawer stopped payment on a check because of a dispute over a debt, and they had reasonable grounds for doing so, this can be a valid defense.
- Involuntary Account Closure: If the bank account was closed for reasons beyond the drawer’s control (i.e., not due to the drawer’s actions), this might be used as a defense.
- Prompt Payment: If the drawer paid the amount due within seven days of receiving notice of a refused payment, they could avoid criminal charges.
Writing worthless checks in Illinois can have serious consequences. It’s essential to understand the state’s laws and potential penalties surrounding deceptive practices. If someone finds themselves facing such charges, it’s imperative to consult with an attorney familiar with Illinois’ criminal statutes to ensure their rights are protected and explore possible defenses.
Why Retain an Attorney for Writing a Worthless Check Criminal Charge?
Being charged with writing a worthless check in Illinois, or any state, might seem minor compared to other criminal offenses. However, the legal repercussions can be substantial and have lasting impacts on a person’s record. Here are reasons why retaining an attorney when faced with such charges is critical:
- Understanding of the Law
- Interpretation of Statutes: Illinois’ laws surrounding worthless checks can be complex. A seasoned attorney can accurately interpret the statutes and their nuances.
- Legal Definitions: The legal definition of “knowingly” writing a bad check, as per 720 ILCS 5/17-1(B), can be intricate. A lawyer can determine if the actions indeed fit this legal definition.
- Potential Serious Consequences
- Criminal Record: Even a misdemeanor conviction can result in a permanent criminal record, affecting future employment opportunities, housing applications, and more.
- Jail Time: In certain cases, especially repeated offenses, there’s a possibility of jail time. An attorney can work to reduce or eliminate this risk.
- Negotiating Skills
- Plea Bargains: A skilled lawyer might negotiate a plea bargain, which could reduce the charges or penalties. For instance, they might negotiate a civil settlement in place of criminal charges.
- Reduced Sentences: If conviction seems likely, an attorney can negotiate for reduced sentences or alternative sentencing, such as community service or restitution.
- Proper Legal Procedure
- Filing Motions: There might be grounds to file motions, such as dismissing the charges due to lack of evidence or challenging the manner in which evidence was obtained.
- Representation in Court: If the case goes to trial, having a lawyer present the defense and challenge the prosecution is paramount.
- Crafting a Strong Defense
- Investigation: An attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding the check’s issuance, collecting evidence that supports the defense.
- Expert Witnesses: In certain cases, expert witnesses, like bank officials, can testify on the client’s behalf. A lawyer will know when and how to use such testimony.
- Knowledge of the Local System
- Familiarity with Local Courts: Every court and judge can have unique procedures and tendencies. An experienced local attorney will understand these nuances.
- Relationships with Prosecutors: Established relationships can be beneficial in negotiating plea deals or understanding how the prosecution might approach the case.
- objective viewpoint, ensuring decisions are made in the best legal interest of the client.
- Financial Implications
- Restitution: Instead of facing heavier penalties, an attorney might be able to arrange for the payment of the check amount as restitution, possibly leading to reduced charges or penalties.
- Future Implications: A conviction can lead to higher insurance rates, job losses, and other financial repercussions. An attorney can help minimize these consequences.
While the act of writing a worthless check might seem minor, the ramifications of a conviction can be significant and long-lasting. Retaining an attorney ensures that an individual’s rights are protected, provides guidance through the legal maze, and maximizes the chances of a favorable outcome. If faced with such charges in Illinois, seeking legal counsel should be a priority.
Aggressive Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer with 25 Years of Experience
Over the past two decades, David L. Freidberg has gained a dearth of knowledge on the Illinois Compiled Statutes Criminal Code, evidence, rules of criminal procedure, and the U.S. Constitution. David L. Freidberg strives to combine his training, experience, skills, and passion for serving vulnerable communities to provide clients with unparalleled representation. To schedule a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg 24/7 at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at (800) 803-1442.
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