Many of us have heard the term “bad checks” without realizing that it referred to a specific legal concept. In fact, California Penal Code Section 476a is specifically dedicated to the prosecution of individuals who write or pass “bad checks.”
You can find out more about California Penal Code Section 476a: Writing or Passing “Bad Checks” right here with the Simmrin Law Group. Go over the penalties for a PC 476a conviction with this article. You can also consider legal defenses for accusations of writing or passing a bad check.
The Definition of Writing or Passing a Bad Check in California
Individuals in the state of California can be prosecuted under PC 476a if they:
- Purposefully Deliver, Write, Use, or Attempt to Use
- A Check, Draft, or Order for the Payment of Money
- While Aware That They Lack Sufficient Funds to Cover the Check AND
- With the Intention of Defrauding Someone
Note that writing or passing bad checks is very similar to the charge of check fraud in California. However, check fraud covers a wider range of fraudulent acts. PC 476a deals only with individuals who intentionally try to pass off a check that they know will not be covered by the funds in their account.
Levels of Severity in PC 476a Charges
You should also be aware that the court system in California may prosecute writing or passing a bad check as a misdemeanor or a felony. Let’s go over the differences between a misdemeanor and felony charges:
Misdemeanor PC 476a Charges
Individuals generally face misdemeanor charges if they pass a bad check written for under $950. However, individuals may face felony charges for passing a bad check, even if the check was written for a low amount, based on their prior criminal record.
Felony PC 476a Charges
As we mentioned, individuals could be charged with a felony for writing or passing a bad check if the check was for more than $950. Individuals could face felony charges for smaller checks if they were previously convicted at least three times under:
- Penal Code Section 476a: Writing or Passing Bad Checks
- Penal Code Section 470: Forgery
- Penal Code Section 476: Check Fraud
- Other Charges for Counterfeiting or Forgery
- Penal Code Section 484(a) and 488: Petty Theft (In Some Circumstances)
Additionally, individuals with prior convictions for some sex crimes and violent crimes may automatically face felony charges for writing or passing a bad check.
The Penalties for Writing or Passing a Bad Check
Misdemeanor and felony charges for writing or passing a bad check are given different penalties. The court system could sentence individuals convicted under PC 476a to:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to One Year
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Prison Time: Up to Three Years
Legal Defenses for Writing or Passing Bad Checks
You can start working on a legal defense for PC 476a charges by contacting a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can focus on assessing your unique legal needs today. Let us go over the facts surrounding your case, to see if any of the following defenses would apply to your situation:
You Didn’t Realize You Were Writing a Bad Check
You should only be convicted under PC 476a if you knew you did not have enough money in your account to cover the check that you wrote. If you had reason to believe that your account contained sufficient funds and that the check would clear, you shouldn’t be convicted for writing or passing a bad check.
You Told the Payee to Wait to Cash the Check Until Funds Were in Your Account
Sometimes, you know that you will have funds in your account, they just aren’t there when you write a check. If you inform the payee that they may need to wait a bit before cashing the check, to make sure it does not bounce, you could avoid PC 476a charges.
Diversion Programs for Writing or Passing Bad Checks
You should also be aware that many areas in California offer programs that can help you get your criminal charges dismissed. Generally, you must attend these programs and offer restitution to the individual who received the bad check to ensure your charges are completely dismissed.
Speak with a Lawyer about Writing or Passing Bad Checks in California
Take the stress out of handling California Penal Code Section 476a: Writing or Passing “Bad Checks” charges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group. You can speak with our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles to get personalized help handling PC 476a charges. Fill out our online contact form or call (310) 896-2723 to get started.
We can even offer you a FREE case evaluation to go over your legal options.