Check Fraud Laws in Texas: How It Is Found and Punished
- September 7, 2016
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Check Fraud Laws in Texas: How It Is Found and Punished
Catching Check Fraud In Texas
Texas has strict laws that can be applied to people who attempt to take money or property that is not theirs. These crimes are typically covered under theft laws, however; people who use misrepresentations or deceit to steal may be charged with fraud.
Fraud is a relatively common criminal offense and check fraud is one of the most common types of this offense. Although it is a common offense, fraudsters can get themselves into serious trouble, especially if they are repeat offenders or commit fraud involving large sums of money.
Texas law enforcement is tough on fraud. Read on to learn more about the way that fraud is punished in the Lone Star State.
What Is Fraud?
According to Chapter 32 of the Texas Penal Code, an act of fraud is an attempt to steal the property or services of another person by using deceit or false information. When it comes to check fraud there are a variety of ways that this can happen. For example, a person can be charged with check fraud if they:
- Pass off a check belonging to another person as if it were their own
- Write a check for an amount that is greater than the balance in their checking account
- Steal an unsigned check for the purpose of using it, even if it is never actually used
- Write a bad check to take advantage of the processing delay time to cover a bill or debt
- Present false identifying information in order to appear as if they are the owner of a check
For example, Mallory doesn’t have enough money to buy groceries for the week. She knows that if she writes a check at the grocery store, it will take at least two days for the money to be removed from her checking account. She decides to write the check anyway and deposit money on payday to cover the balance. She may have good intentions but Mallory has committed check fraud.
How Check Fraud Is Caught
Law enforcement devotes plenty of time to catching check fraudsters. In many cases, it’s not too hard to spot someone who is trying to break the law with a bad check. For example, a person who tries to pass a check belonging to someone else can be asked to show ID. If they are not who they say they are, the police can be called to make an arrest. Also, people who lose their checkbooks may report the loss so that their bank will be on the lookout for any checks that are written from the missing book.
While it is possible to get away with writing a bad check and the covering the balance before the funds are withdrawn, this scheme won’t last long. The bank will notice this activity quickly and they can notify the police or freeze that person’s account.
In many cases, fraudsters are caught with the help of banks. Banks have a vested interest in protecting their money and their customers and they won’t hesitate to contact law enforcement about a check fraudster.
How Check Fraud Is Prosecuted and Punished
In many cases, the prosecution will have plenty of evidence to use against a defendant who has been charged with check fraud. This is because defendants are usually caught in the act of trying to pass a bad check. If they try to pass or cash a bad check in a bank or a store, they will likely be caught on camera and the teller or salesperson may be asked to identify them.
If this is the case, the defendant may be advised by his or her attorney to enter a plea deal. A person who is accused of check fraud may face conviction on several different offenses. For instance, a person who is caught using a check belonging to another person could face a conviction of check forgery. This is punishable by:
- Conviction on a state jail felony charge
- Up to two years in state jail or prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Stealing a check or accepting a stolen check from another person is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $4,000
If a person is convicted of check fraud by using the stolen identification documents of another person, they could face additional charges of identity theft. Identity theft is a very serious crime that could lead to federal charges, years in prison and mandatory restitution to anyone affected by the theft.
If a person is a first time offender accused of check fraud, they may be able to enter a plea deal. In exchange for submitting a guilty plea, they may be allowed to fulfill a term of supervised probation and community service, rather than spending time in jail.