I just found out I wrote a worthless check. What does this mean?
Here’s what the Code of Alabama says:
Negotiating worthless negotiable instrument - Generally.
(a) A person commits the crime of negotiating a worthless negotiable instrument if the person negotiates or delivers a negotiable instrument for a thing of value and with the intent, knowledge, or expectation that it will not be honored by the drawee.
(b) For the purposes of this section, it is prima facie evidence that the maker or drawer intended, knew, or expected that the instrument would not be honored in any of the following instances:
- (1) The maker or drawer had no account with the drawee at the time the negotiable instrument was negotiated or delivered, as determined according to Section 7-3-503(2).
- (2) Payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, upon presentation within 30 days after delivery, and the maker or drawer shall not have paid the holder thereof the amount due thereon, together with a service charge of not more than (fill in appropriate amount as provided by law), within 10 days after receiving written notice from the holder of the instrument that payment was refused upon the instrument, as provided in Section 13A-9-13.2.
- (3) Notice that payment was refused is mailed by certified or registered mail and is returned undelivered to the sender, when the notice is mailed within a reasonable time after dishonor to the address printed on the instrument or given by the maker or drawer at the time of issuance of the instrument.
(c) Negotiating a worthless negotiable instrument is a Class A misdemeanor.
How can I avoid being arrested or having a criminal record?
Alabama Code Section 12-17-242 says:
After approval of the complaint, a warrant may be issued by an appropriate warrant magistrate, and the warrant may be held by the Worthless Check Unit. After issuance of a warrant or upon approval of a complaint by the Worthless Check Unit, the unit shall notify the individual charged with violating Section 13A-9-13.1 by issuing a notice to the individual that a warrant has been issued for arrest or that a complaint has been received by the Worthless Check Unit. The notice may be sent by mail. The notice shall inform the accused that he or she may be eligible for deferred prosecution for violation of Section 13A-9-13.1 by voluntarily surrendering to the Worthless Check Unit within ten (10) business days from the date of the notice.
Once I receive the notice, what do I need to do?
You can resolve your case by paying the check and all fees prior to an arrest by cash, money order or cashier's check. To pay by debit/credit card (convenience fee may apply), please click here to make an online payment. No personal checks accepted. When submitting a money order or cashier's check, please send to the address below and include defendant's name and case number:
District Attorney’s Worthless Check Unit
801 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N, Suite 107
Birmingham, AL 35203
What if I need more time to pay?
Come to the Worthless Check Unit at the above address. You will be offered a Restitution Agreement and be given additional time to pay.
Can I set up a payment plan?
To get your case set up on payments, your case will have to go to court. You will be offered a bond to sign and a court date will be set. However, if your case goes to court, additional court costs will be added to the total amount owed, and you will have a criminal record.
What if I don’t feel I owe this money?
Come to our office and we will discuss your cases with you. If needed, your case will be assigned to one of our investigators to follow up with you. You may also contact your attorney to discuss your rights and your available options if you wish to dispute the charge(s).
Do you have any other questions?
Please call us 205-325-1422