What Is Check Fraud?
Check fraud is a criminal act which utilizes checks unlawfully in order to borrow or acquire funds which aren't in existence within a given balance, or within a given account-holder's legal means. Usually check fraudsters take advantage of the time between the check's negotiation and its clearance with the bank of the individual who wrote the check. This time is called the "float". There is also check kiting and paper hanging. Kiting is where money is put into the bank at the tail end of the float period as a cover-up. Paper hanging involves fraudulent checks being written during the float period wherein the account is never replenished.
As an example: say a fraudulent check writer understands there's $20,000 in the account. Now this individual happens to work at a car dealership, and somebody just wrote a $15,000.00 check for a secondhand Prius, or something of that ilk. There's only $20,000 in the bank, but before the check clears, the aforementioned $15,000 is in "limbo", as it were. So the fraudulent car agent waits until the check has gone through the little machine, then uses Xeroxcapabilities to tweak another check and purchase property that can be moved on the street.
The Law Offices of Jeff Voll, based in Los Angeles, California, specialize in check fraud. In legal terminology, the practice area for check fraud is Criminal Law. Criminal law defines violations of penal law or offenses against either the State (of California in this case) or the United States in general. It is the prerogative of Jeff Voll to achieve the best possible outcome for his clients while defending them against any criminal charges.
Check Fraud is covered under Penal Code 476 PC. Either making, or attempting to make, use, or possess a check intended to defraud a payee is check fraud. That intent is revealed by a check that's represented to be genuine, which really is not. Forging the name of the payee, changing the dollar amount on the check, making a fake check--these are all fraud covered under 476 PC. Common defenses include: not intending to commit said fraud; not being the person who actually committed the fraud, and consent for check alterations.
Now Penal Code 476 PC could be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on prosecuting attorneys. Misdemeanor rulings have a maximum penalty of a year's jail time and up to $1000 in fines. Felony ups the ante with 16 months' to three years in county jail, and a maximum fine of up to $10,000. Forged checks less than $950 will keep the convicted under the misdemeanor penumbra.
How Does Prosecution Prosecute?
It is "intent to commit fraud" that a prosecutor is trying to prove in the case of flimsy checks. The intent is revealed, as earlier mentioned, when it can prove a check represented as genuine is in fact fraudulent. If the prosecution can't prove this, then the defendant won't be convicted. Defenses like check alteration consent, non-intention toward commission of fraud, and identity (not being the person who committed the fraud) have all been successful. But they've failed, too; a lot of that can depend on the cleverness of the prosecution. Clever prosecutors scrutinize a defendant until the underlying weakness which could motivate said defendant into fraudulent activity is discovered. An example of motivation would be, say...an outstanding debt with a collection agency using non-traditional means vis-a-vis local criminal organizations. A prosecutor would look for that. Naturally, the defendant in a check fraud case is unlikely to beforthcoming; if they're actually guilty, dishonesty has become a means of income. So the prosecutor must sift that individual and go through any information that could indicate fraudulent activity. This can include things like continuous "floated" purchases, previously bounced checks, excessive debt, or pictures on Facebook where a given defendant is flaunting a fat wad of cash. There are any number of things that could give a person committing fraud away.
Who Can Be Charged?
Any citizen of the United States over the legal age can be charged with the full blunt force of the law. Minors can also be charged, if sufficient evidence for a conviction is attainable.
Fraud has many bedfellows. Beyond check fraud there's credit card fraud, identity theft, promissory fraud, concealment fraud, embezzlement, and constructive fraud. All can carry stiff penalties, depending on the magnitude of the fraudulent activity. But cogent attorneys have a bevy of defenses designed to vindicate plaintiffs and convict defendants. These defenses include utilizing a previous legal record to indicate trends in fraudulent activity/vindicate non-fraudulent defendants, examination of financial records, plea-bargaining (if applicable), and a variety of other methods which may be obscure or commonplace depending on the scenario.
How We Can Help
The legal system is not designed, sad as this may seem, with the best interests of non-represented parties in mind. Look, it's complicated. Where it should be porous and elastic it's stringent and immobile. Where it should be black and white, it turns out to be transitory. There are a lot of things which influence a ruling, and you shouldn't go into the courtroom unprepared or without representation. Without representation, the likelihood is a worst-case-scenario in conviction terms will be directly meted out to you.
For questions or concerns, contact the Law Office of Jeff Voll at 323-467-6400. Since check fraud convictions can "wobble", even cases where over $950 is involved could result in a misdemeanor ruling, with the right legal representation. 1 year and $1000 is a lot less difficult to stomach than 16 months to 3 years and up to $10,000 in fines. If you've got a check fraud case, or if you're being wrongfully accused, Jeff Voll can help. The faster the better.
There are often steps you can take before trial ensues to determine a ruling one direction or another. These should not be skipped through ignorance, and contacting a cogent attorney is a great way to know where you're at and what you can do. Furthermore, Jeff Voll offers a free case evaluation/consultation; so you can get the information you need when you need it most. Los Angeles has a variety of legal representation; it makes sense to go with an option like Jeff Voll, because in fraudulent criminal cases, he has an outstanding track record.
The legal system is not your friend, and it will exercise the maximum amount of time and finances from you if you let it. The law is blind to innocence and guilt, unless a good attorney is there to lift that blindfold. Keep in mind that once the system has you, it doesn't want to let you go. A $1000 legal fee is less than $10,000 in probationary fees, fines, therapy, or mandated treatment. And if you can stay out of prison in the process, legal representation then proves itself to be positively invaluable.