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Lois Burgess, Bad Check Administrator, discusses a case
with Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle

 

General Information for Bad Checks

            The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Bad Checks Division assists individuals and merchants in the collection of bad checks issued in Cape Girardeau County. Upon the receipt of a completed bad check complaint form and the original check from the victim, a "10 day letter" is sent to the writer of the check. If payment is not made, our office may proceed with the filing of criminal charges.

            A person who writes a check over $500 or writes any check on a closed account faces a class C felony charge.  The range of punishment for that charge can include probation, a fine, county jail or up to a seven year prison sentence.  Any check under $500 is a misdemeanor charge and can also include probation, a fine or up to one year in county jail.   

            If the offender is placed on probation, the sentencing has the ability to order them to pay restitution to the victim as a condition of probation. However, if the judge sentences the defendant to a fine or incarceration, then restitution cannot be ordered.  In every case, the decision as to the sentence (probation vs. fine vs. incarceration) is completely up to the judge.

            Heather Hull is the Bad Check Administrator for the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.  Once a bad check case has been turned over to our office, please contact Ms. Hull for assistance.

            Always remember that cashing a check is a privilege, not a right.  Businesses/Individuals are not required to accept a personal check from anyone.  You have the right to insist upon cash, money orders, or cashier's checks.  Refusing to accept a personal check will often save you time and money in the long run.

Procedure for Reporting to Prosecutor's Office

1.  Upon receipt of the check (s) from your bank, return a completed bad check complaint form, the original or legal copy of bad check (s) showing the reason for dishonor by the bank to:

Bad Check Unit

Office of Prosecuting Attorney

Courthouse

100 Court Street

Jackson, MO 63755

 

2.  Our office will send a Ten-Day day letter to the bad check writer.

3.  Upon receiving payment, our office will forward the restitution to the person/business that accepted the check.

4.  Following the Ten-Day Letter, if we do not receive a response, we will make every effort to pursue prosecution. Not all checks are appropriate for prosecution.  Each check will be considered on a case by case basis.  Please understand that there is a protocol for prosecuting checks and it takes time to do so. 

Requirements for Prosecution

In order to win a prosecution of a bad check case in court, the prosecutor must be able to prove that a certain individual wrote a specific check. Since many weeks have passed from the time the check was accepted until the time of the first court date, we require the following information be obtained:

  1. Driver's license number, state of issuance and date of birth on the person writing the check.

  2. Compare the person on the ID with the person presenting it to make sure they match.  That way, if you cannot recognize the person later at trial, you can testify that you always compare the person to the driver's license photograph and that you did so in this particular case.

  3. Require a current physical address and phone number

  4. Make sure the check is completely filled out, dated, signed and legible. 

WE DO NOT ACCEPT FOR PROSECUTION: Checks without the required ID information, third party checks, checks that are beyond the statute of limitations, postdated checks, out of state checks, checks which were not passed in our jurisdiction, checks in which partial payment has been taken, checks where the parties made an agreement to hold the check, the check writer cannot be identified, the account holder is deceased, the person who physically accepted the check is unknown, or the check is better pursued through litigation.

We no longer accept checks that have been returned due to a Stop Payment request.  Stop payment checks are extremely difficult to prosecute criminally.  If arrangements cannot be made to return the property in which the check was written for, then you may want to consider pursuing civil charges by either hiring a private attorney or filing a small claims court action.

Please Note: Once a check has been submitted to our office for collection and/or prosecution, you must not accept payment from the defendant. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in refusal to pursue collection and/or prosecution on future checks.

 

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