As per Florida Statute §832.05(4), if a person issues a check for purchasing services, wares, goods, or any other thing that possess a monetary value with prior knowledge of insufficient funds, it will be considered as a criminal act and classified as obtaining property by worthless check.
Check as Inducement for Property
It must be understood that a prosecutor must prove that the check was issued to the payee/receiver against services or goods delivered by the payee/receiver. These cases are different from "issuing worthless check" where exchange reward and services is not a compulsion. Moreover, it must be proved that the check was issued before or at the time of the deliverance of the services or goods.
However, if the method of the payment was not decided before or at the time of the deliverance of services or goods and the payer sends a worthless check afterward for payment, the check will not be considered as legal inducement against the goods or services.
Withdrawing Funds Prior to Cashing
If a person withdraws money from his/her account before the issued check for obtaining property is cashed, and there are insufficient funds for cashing the check, it will be considered as a proof that the person was aware of the insufficient funds in the account.
Penalties for Obtaining Property by Worthless Check
A prosecutor can litigate legal proceedings in this matter as a felony or misdemeanor, and it will also depend on the amount mentioned on the check.
Misdemeanor Obtaining Property by Worthless Check
If the amount mentioned on the worthless check for obtaining property is below $150, it will be considered as a misdemeanor of first degree in Florida. Any person found guilty may face any of the following legal punishments:
Imprisonment of that can extend up to one year
Probation that can extend up to one year
A fine of $1000
Felony Obtaining Property by Worthless Check
If the amount mentioned on the worthless check issued to obtain property is equal to or greater than $150, it will be considered as a felony of the third degree and offense of level 1 as per the Criminal punishment code of Florida. A person found guilty of such charges may be handed any of the following legal punishments:
Imprisonment of a maximum of five years
Probation that may extend up to five years
Defenses to Obtaining Property by Worthless Check
Payee's Knowledge of Insufficient Funds
If the receiver/payee had prior knowledge or should have prior knowledge or notified of the fact that there were insufficient funds at the time of issuance of the check, it can be used as a defense in this case.
If the check issued to obtain property was postdated, it could be used as a strong defense in such cases.
If an individual issued a worthless check for the settlement of an already existing debt, then that individual cannot be held guilty for issuing a worthless check to obtain a property. In this case, it will be considered as issuing worthless check and will be dealt with accordingly.
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If you have been charged or arrested in the Daytona Beach area, contact Larry Avallone, who is an expert Criminal Defense Lawyer in Volusia County. My initial consultation is completely free. I am ready to provide legal advice regarding the next steps in your case.