National Check Fraud Center

Bad Check Laws by States

Bad checks, also known as NSF checks, bounced checks, rubber checks, insufficient checks, bogus checks, etc., can be a big problem for an individual or for any size company. There are both civil and criminal penalties for this unlawful act, although it is much more costly and difficult to prove a criminal case. Always consider your goal: to recover the money or punish the check writer?

  • Civil Penalties by State.
  • Criminal Penalties by State.
  • Payments for COD or preexisting debt:

    In most cases, NSF checks are not considered under the bad check law if they are used to pay an antecedent debt. Therefore, if a debtor gives a debtor an NSF check to pay a note payment or to pay an invoice that is on account, the act generally does not fall within the bad check law. However, if the debtor provides a creditor with a NSF check for a COD order, then that act does fall within the bad check laws.

    Postdated Checks:

    Section 3-104(2)(b) of the UCC, defines a check as "a draft drawn on a bank and payable on demand." A postdated check, since it is not payable on demand, does not satisfy this demand. Consequently, it has generally been held by most states that the giving of a post-dated check does not constitute a present fraud nor is it within the scope of the bad check laws.

    Who is the guilty party?

    The guilty party of a fraudulent check is usually the person who signed the check, but it could also be the person who fraudulently passed it on, or even a third party who endorsed and passed the check on to another.


    Civil Penalties by States

    The following information may be out of date when you read this. Check with your state statutes for current law.

    1. Alabama. Greater of $10 or actual bank charges.

    2. Alaska. The bidder may recover damages in an amount equal to $100 or treble the amount, whichever is greater, except that damages recovered under bad check law may not exceed the amount of the check by more than $1000.

    3. Arizona. Twice the amount of the check or $50, whichever is greater, costs of suit, reasonable attorneys' fees.

    4. Arkansas. Amount due, service charge not to exceed $10. On stop payment, 15 days following written demand to drawer's last known address, holder may collect fee not to exceed $15; failure to make restitution and pay collection fee will result in liability of twice the amount of check but in no event less than $50.

    5. California. Amount due, damages of treble the amount so owing, but in no case less than $100 or more than $1, 500. [Civil Code 1719(a)(2) ]

    6. Colorado. Treble the amount of such check and in no case less than $100, including reasonable fees.

    7. Connecticut. Amount of check plus lessor of: if no bank account - $750 or amount of check; or if insufficient funds - $400 or amount of check. Statutory form of notice must be sent at least two times. Statute does not apply to certain consumer services.

    8. Delaware. Amount due, costs of suit, protest fees.

    9. District of Columbia. Amount due, protest fees.

    10. Florida. In event of failure to make payment within 30 days after demand, treble amount owed in addition to the amount owed together with bank and court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees, not less than $50 and no more than $2,500. If payment is made in 30 days, a service charge of $10 or 5% of face amount of check, whichever is greater, can be added. In stop payment action, reimbursement for actual travel expenses to holder or agent for filing papers, and for traveling and providing witnesses to an from proceeding.

    11. Georgia. Upon 30 days following certified written demand by payee to maker, the maker shall be liable to the payee for damages of double the amount owing on the check not to exceed $500 and service charge not to exceed $15.

    12. Hawaii. Amount due, costs of suit, protest fees.

    13. Idaho. $100 or treble the amount of the check, whichever is greater, but not more than $500 greater than the amount of the check.

    14. Illinois. Treble amount of check but not less than $100 nor more than $500 plus attorney's fees and court costs.

    15. Indiana. Treble amount of check not to exceed $500 plus amount of check, attorneys' fees of not less than $100 and interest at 18% per annum.

    16. Iowa. Treble amount of dishonored check but not to exceed amount of check plus $500.

    17. Kansas. Giver of worthless check is liable for the amount of the check plus an amount equal to the greater of the following: (a) treble the amount of the check, but not exceeding the amount of the check by more than $500; or (b) $100.

    18. Louisiana. Drawer of dishonored check who fails to pay 30 days after written demand delivered by certified or registered mail is liable for damages in twice the amount owing but not less than $100 plus attorneys's fees and court costs. Payee may charge service charge not to exceed $15 or 5% of the face amount of the check, whichever is greater. District Attorney can collect fees for issuance of worthless check, depending on amount of check.

    19. Maine. Amount due, court costs, service costs, collection costs, processing charges can be recovered only if statutory notice given, or payment within 10 days of notice.

    20. Maryland. Amount due, $15 fee, and amount up to two times the amount of the check, but not more than $1,000. Holder may claim damages 30 days after mailing notice of dishonor to last known address of maker or drawer.

    21. Massachusetts. Amount due, costs of suit, protest fees.

    22. Minnesota. Amount due, $100 penalty, interest (at judgment rate), reasonable attorneys' fees if amount of check over $1,250, $15 service charge.

    23. Mississippi. Amount due plus additional damages of 100% on checks up to $25,000, 50% (not to exceed $50 or fall below $25) on checks on $25 to $200, and 25% on checks over $200.

    24. Missouri. Greater of treble face amount owed or $100. Damages should not exceed $500.

    25. Montana. Service charge plus the greater of $100.00, or three times the amount of the check, but not to exceeed the value of the check by more than $500.00. (MCA 27-1-717.)

    26. Nebraska. Amount due, costs, protest fees.

    27. Nevada. Amount due, protest fees treble amount of check but not less than $100 nor more than $500.

    28. New Hampshire. Amount due, interest, court costs, reasonable costs of collection, and $10 per day (maximum is $50). If check issued to city or town, amount due, $15 fee plus protest, bank, and legal fees; if issued to state agency, amount due, $5 fee plus protest and bank fees.

    29. New Jersey. Face amount of the check, attorney fees, court costs, costs of mailing a demand for payment, and damages in an amount equal to $100.00 or triple the amount of the check, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $500.00.

    30. New Mexico. Amount due, costs of suit, protest fees.

    31. New York. Face value of check, plus two times amount of check up to $750.

    32. North Carolina. Thirty days after written demand, lesser of $500 or treble amount owing on check, but not less than $100.

    33. North Dakota. Amount due, collection fees not to exceed $10, and $100 or treble amount of check, whichever is less.

    34. Ohio. The greater of $200 or three times the amount of check and attorney fees (no maximum).

    35. Oregon. When maker fails to tender amount due after written demand made by payee, payee may recover damages in an amount equal to $100 or treble amount of the amount for which the check, draft or order is drawn, whichever is greater, provided the amount is not greater than $500 over the due amount.

    36. Pennsylvania. Upon written demand from payee following conviction for passing a bad check and failure to make restitution, the payee upon obtaining civil judgment is entitled to an amount equal to $100 or treble the amount for which the check is drawn, whichever is greater, not to exceed by more than $500 the value of the check.

    37. Rhode Island. Amount of check plus fee of $25, plus amount up to treble amount of check but not less than $200 or more than $1,000.

    38. South Carolina. In addition to other fines, issuer shall pay all reasonable court costs, not to exceed $20 and if payment not made within 30 days, issuer shall pay amount of check and damages, of the lesser of $500 or treble the amount of the check.

    39. Tennessee. Treble amount of check, but not to exceed $500.

    40. Utah. Amount due, interest and costs of collection, court costs, reasonable attorneys' fees.

    41. Vermont. Court costs, amount of check, attorneys' fees, damage in amount of $50.

    42. Virginia. Lesser of $100 or three times amount of check.

    43. Washington. Lesser of amount of check or interest at 12%, and cost of collection not to exceed $40. If court action necessary after 15 days, lesser of reasonable attorneys' fees and treble face of check or $100.

    44. West Virginia. Amount due, service charge not to exceed $10.

    45. Wisconsin. amount of check plus actual damages and exemplary damages not to exceed treble face amount of check.

    46. Wyoming. Amount due as well as damages equal to the cost of collection plus reasonable attorneys' fees.
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    Criminal Penalties by States

    The following information may be out of date when you read this. Check state statutes for current laws.

    1. Alabama. Check of $500 or more, fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5000 or imprisonment up to 3 years, or both; under $500 check, fine depends on amount and offense. Court shall also order restitution to plaintiff; defendant shall pay court costs if convicted.

    2. Alaska. Issuing check for $25,000 or more, maximum fine of $50,000, imprisonment up to 10 years, or both, Issuing check for $500 or more, up to $25,000, maximum fine of $50,000, imprisonment up to 5 years, or both. Issuing check for $50 or more, up to $500, maximum of $5000, imprisonment up to one year, or both. Issuing check under $50, maximum fine of $1000, imprisonment up to 90 days, or both.

    3. Arizona. Up to six months in jail or up to $300 or both if under $25; up to five years in state prison or up to one year in county jail or up to $500 fine or both if between $25 and $100; up to five years in state prison if over $100 or if no account.

    4. Arkansas. Checks of $200 or less for 1st conviction fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 or imprisonment up to 30 days or both; 2nd offense fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1000 or imprisonment up to 90 days or both; 3rd and subsequent offenses fine of not less than $200 nor more than $2000 or imprisonment up to one year or both.

      When more than one check is involved and such checks were drawn within 90 days of each other and each is an amount less than $200, the amount of such separate checks may be added together to arrive at and be punishable under the $200 or more amount to which this category refers.

      Checks for $500 involve a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment up to 10 years or both.

    5. California. Where amount is less than $200 and is first offense, up to one year in county jail.

    6. Colorado. Misdemeanor - imprisonment in county jail for not less than three months nor more than 12 months or by fine of not less than $250 nor more than $1,000 or both.

      Felony - imprisonment in state penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than 5 years or by fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $15,000 or both. If twice previously convicted, punishment is imprisonment in state penitentiary for not less than one year and not more than 10 years or fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $30,000 or both.

    7. Connecticut. Up to $1,000 fine or one year in jail or both.

    8. Delaware. Misdemeanor - up to 2 years in jail, $1,000 fine, or both. Person who issued check must make restitution to person to whom check was issued. Felony - up to seven years and such fine as court may order.

    9. District of Columbia. Up to three years imprisonment and $3,000 fine or both.

    10. Florida. Felony - up to 5 years in prison or $1,000 fine. Misdemeanor - up to $300 or six months in jail.

    11. Georgia. Check for less than $100, fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months or both. check for $100 or more but less than $300, fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months or both. Upon conviction defendant required to make restitution of the amount of the check together with all costs, which are presumed to be $20.

      When more than one check is involved and such checks were drawn within 90 days of one another and each is in an amount less than $100, the amounts of such separate checks may be added together to arrive at and be punishable as above.

      Check for $500 or more; a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for up to three years, or both.

    12. Hawaii. Up to one year in jail or $1,000 fine or both.

    13. Idaho. Fine or imprisonment or both as follows: If under $50, 1st offense - $300 and six months; 2nd offense - $1000 and one year; 3rd offense, or if amount in excess of $50 - $5,000 and three years.

    14. Illinois. Up to $500 fine or up to one year in jail, or both.

    15. Indiana. Up to $5,000 fine or up to one year in jail, or both.

    16. Iowa. Up to $100 fine or 30 days in jail for misdemeanor. Up to seven years in penitentiary, or one year in jail or up to $500 fine, or both, for felony.

    17. Kansas. Up to $2,500 fine or up to one year in jail or both. Up to $5,000 fine or one to five years in jail or both.

    18. Kentucky. Up to $500 fine. One year in penitentiary for a misdemeanor. Felony punishable by imprisonment from one to five years and a fine of not more than $10,000, or double the offender's gain from commission of the crime, whichever is greater.

    19. Louisiana. Check for under $100, imprisonment for not more than 6 months or fine of not more than $500 or both. A third or more such conviction, fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both. Check for $100 or more and less than $500, imprisonment for not more than 2 years or fine of not more than $2,000 or both. Check for $500 or more, imprisonment for not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $3,000 or both. In addition, the court may order as part of the sentence restitution of the amount of the bad check plus reasonable attorneys fees.

    20. Maine. Up to $1,000 fine or 11 months in jail, or both.

    21. Maryland. Misdemeanor - maximum fine $100 or imprisonment up to 60 days or both. Felony - maximum fine of $1,000, imprisonment up to 15 years, or both.

    22. Massachusetts. Up to $300 fine or one year in jail. Up to $600 fine and up to 2 years in jail or up to 5 years in penitentiary.

    23. Michigan. Up to $250 fine or six months in jail. Up to $500 fine or one year in jail.

    24. Mississippi. Checks under $100 - a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $500 or imprisonment in the county jail for not less than five days nor more than six months or both. Upon conviction of second offense for check less than $100 a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 or imprisonment of not less than 30 days nor more than one year. For the third offense a felony regardless of amount involved, imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a term of not less than one year nor more than five years. For a check of more than $100, deemed a felony, punishment of fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for a term of not more than three years or both.

    25. Missouri. Up to $500 fine or six months in jail or both. Up to $1,000 fine or one year in jail or both. In addition prosecutor can collect fee of $5 for checks less than $10, $10 for checks - $10 - $100 and $25 for check of $100 or more.

    26. Montana. Check amount under $500.00=Up to $500 fine or six months in jail, or both. Check amount over $500.00=Up to $50,000 fine or 10 years in penitentiary or both. (MCA 45-6-316.)

    27. Nebraska. Obtaining property worth: More than $1,000 - Class III felony. More than $300 but less than $1,000 - class IV felony. Less than $75 - class II misdemeanor; 2nd offense - class IV felony. Issuing or passing a check of any amount - class II misdemeanor.

    28. Nevada. Up to six months in county jail or $500 fine, or both. State prison of one to 10 years or $10,000 fine or both.

    29. New Hampshire. Up to $200 fine or up to one year in jail, or both.

    30. New Jersey. Up to $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail or both.

    31. New Mexico. Up to $1000 fine or 30 days in jail, or both. One to 3 years in jail, or up to $1,000, or both.

    32. New York. Up to three months in jail, or up to $500, or up to double the amount of the drawer's gain from the commission of the offense.

    33. North Carolina. $50 - $500 or up to six months in jail. If check is less than $50 - $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Over three convictions, up to one year. If check drawn on non-existent account, fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both. If check drawn on account closed by drawer prior to time check drawn, fine not to exceed $400 or imprisonment for not more than 5 months or both.

    34. North Dakota. $25 - $250 fine, or up to 3 months in county jail, or both. If no account - fine up to $500 and one year in jail.

    35. Ohio. Misdemeanor: Up to 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine, or both. Felon: Up to 5 years, $2,500 fine, or both.

    36. Oklahoma. Up to one year imprisonment or up to $1,000 fine or both. One to 10 years imprisonment or up to $5,000 fine.

    37. Oregon. Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail, or both. Felony: Imprisonment for not more than 5 years.

    38. Pennsylvania. Up to $1,000 fine or up to 2 years in penitentiary, or both.

    39. Rhode Island. Up to $500 fine, or up to one year imprisonment, or both. Up to $2,000 fine, or up to 2 years imprisonment, or both.

    40. South Carolina. Up to $2,000 fine or up to 10 years in jail, or both. In magistrate's court - first conviction, not less than $50, nor more than $250 or imprisonment of 30 days; second or subsequent conviction, fine of $200 or imprisonment for 30 days. Conviction in court of General Sessions, first conviction fine not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both; for second or more conviction, fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not less than 30 days or not more than 10 years.

    41. South Dakota. First offense: a fine of not more than $100 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days or both. Second offense: a fine of not more than $300 nor less than $100 and imprisonment of not more than 6 months or less than 30 days. Third and subsequent offenses: a fine of not more than $500 nor less than $300 and imprisonment for not more than one year nor less than 6 months. Felony: Up to 3 years and not more than $1,000 fine.

    42. Tennessee. Not over $100 - not over 11 months 29 days in jail, not over $500 fine, or both. Over $100 - from three to 10 years in jail.

    43. Texas. Up to 2 years in county jail or up to $1,000 or both. 30 days to 2 years in jail and up to $1,000. Two to 10 years. Holder of bad check may charge obligor with any additional processing fees.

    44. Utah. Less than $200 - up to 6 months or $299 or both; more than $200 but less than $300 - up to one year or $1,000 or both. More than $300 but less than $1,000 - up to five years or $5,000 or both; more than $1,000 - up to 15 years or $1,000 or both.

    45. Vermont. Up to one year in jail and $1000 fine or both.

    46. Virginia. $200 or less fine or 10 days to 12 months in jail, or both. One to five years in the penitentiary or fine and jail, or one to ten years penitentiary in discretion of court.

    47. Washington. Misdemeanor - full restitution; the defendant need not be imprisoned, but the court shall impose a minimum fine of $500. Of the fine imposed, at least $50 shall not be suspended or deferred. Upon conviction for a second offense within any twelve-month period, the court may suspend or defer only that portion of the fine which is in excess of $500. Felony - Up to one year in jail or up to $1,000 fine, or both.

    48. West Virginia. Maximum fine of $100, up to 10 days in jail, or both. For obtaining property under $200 - maximum fine of $200, imprisonment up to six months, or both. For obtaining property over $200 - maximum fine of $500, imprisonment from one to five years, or both.

    49. Wisconsin. Up to $1,000 fine or one year in jail.

    50. Wyoming. Misdemeanor - Fine of not more than $750 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. Felony - Fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years, or both.

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