While checks are a convenient way to pay for the things we all need, there’s a significant potential for check fraud. That’s why people guard their checkbooks so closely, and it’s also why banks sometimes hold checks for days or weeks before making funds available. So what happens if you try to deposit a fraudulent or altered check in New York?
Penalties: Is Check Fraud a Felony in New York?
In the state of New York, check fraud is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries the potential for a three-month jail sentence and a $500 fine. However, clients should keep in mind that the penalties increase in severity as the face value of a check goes up.
For instance, if you’ve received over $3000 after cashing a bad check, it’s a Class D felony. The state typically prosecutes these cases as grand larceny, which may bring a seven-year prison sentence. No matter the value of the check in question, a New York criminal defense attorney will help by evaluating your options and building a strong defense.
What Happens if You Unknowingly Deposit a Fake Check?
Under some circumstances, bad checks are inadvertently deposited. Check scams are everywhere, and they’re surprisingly easy to fall for. Perhaps you’ve accepted payment and the check is no good, or you’ve been led to believe you’ve won a sweepstakes.
Thankfully, it is possible to avoid criminal penalties if this happens. Intent is a crucial factor in criminal prosecutions, and a person cannot be held responsible for an offense they didn’t plan to commit.
With that in mind, trying to cash a bad check can still create severe financial difficulties, which is why it’s best not to do it.
Example of Check Fraud
Last year, the news reported that someone received a prison sentence after taking checks from others’ mailboxes and trying to cash them at several banks. The offender cashed several of these checks before he was apprehended. Along with the time he spent incarcerated, he was also ordered to pay approximately $2500 in restitution. Check fraud carries severe legal and civil consequences in New York, and that’s why we strongly advise against it.
Speak with an Attorney for Check Fraud
If you have been accused of check fraud, it makes sense to have a qualified lawyer in your corner. New York criminal defense lawyers will use their legal knowledge to build stronger defenses and help their clients lessen the severity of check fraud penalties. With help from one of the firm’s attorneys, you can mitigate the consequences of check fraud and potentially stay out of prison.
If you have been the victim of check fraud, then an attorney can help in this situation as well. A New York criminal defense attorney can help you get justice and try to recoup any damages or cost you incurred.