Attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm discuss recent case results in a worthless check case in New Port Richey, Pasco County, FL.
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Our client, a young woman from St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, FL, was charged with one count of worthless check after bouncing a check to Walmart in Port Richey, Pasco County, FL, in 2004. The case was charged as a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in the Pasco County Jail. The woman was not aware of the fact that a warrant had been issued for her arrest because the warrant was taken out in 2005 and she never received any notice in the mail.
During a background check with a potential employer, the woman found out about the warrant in 2009. The immediately hired the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm. After filing motions and investigating the circumstances surrounding the case, the State Attorney's Office agreed to drop the charge completely during a pre-trial conference on July 15, 2009, at the West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey, FL, before the Honorable Debra Roberts.
The client was not guilty of the offense because at the time she wrote the check she had no intention of defrauding the merchant. Instead, the Florida woman was going through a difficult financial circumstance that caused the check to bounce. No other checks were returned for insufficient funds.
Walmart employees completed a "Worthless Check Affidavit" requesting that prosecution of the case. In the affidavit, Walmart alleged that the Florida woman did draw, make, utter, issue or deliver a worthless check in 2004 which was returned for insufficient funds. The State Attorney's Office in Pasco County may also prosecute a case involving a check returned for a closed account, no account, stop payment, uncollected funds, refer to maker, or other reasons.
In a case in which the check was post-dated, the State Attorney's Office may decide not prosecute the case if the merchant admits that the check was post-dated. If the check was post-dated, that indicates that the merchant took the check knowing that the funds were not in the account, therefore no fraud can be alleged. Likewise, the cases are not usually prosecuted when the holder of the check was asked to hold or delay deposit of the check. Other factors important to determining whether the case should be prosecuted include the following:
- Whether the check was delivered by a person other than the checkwriter;
- Whether the checkholder signed an order or contact for which the mailed check was payment;
- Whether a certified letter was mailed to the checkwriter notifying the checkwriter that the check was returned;
- Whether the person who took the check can identify the checkwriter by prior knowledge or acquaintance with the checkwriter, personal recollection of the checkwriter from the time check was received, personal data recorded on the check, or personal data recorded on a check cashing card, contract, etc.;
- Whether the holder of the check has a check cashing card for the checkwriter;
- Whether the person accepting the check initialed the check;
- Whether a photograph was made of the person writing the check;
- Whether the check holder had ever received a bad check from the person before.
The criminal offenses of obtaining goods or services for a worthless check is a serious criminal offense because it is considered a "crime of dishonesty." If you are convicted of the offense, you will forever have to disclose on most job applications that you have been convicted of a crime of dishonesty. Furthermore, that information will be available to potential employers during even a routine background check. If you agree to enter a plea of guilty or no contest in exchange for probation and the court withholds adjudication, you will never be eligible to expunge the criminal record (although you may be eligible to seal the record if you have no other convictions or issues which make you ineligible).
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Before you attempt to represent yourself in this type of serious criminal case, contact an attorney experienced in fighting these types of charges. To speak with an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm about your worthless check case in Tampa or Plant City, Hillsborough County, Clearwater or St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Dade City or New Port Richey, Pasco County, or Bartow, Polk County, call 813-250-0500.