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Over 30 years ago Florida lawmakers established a bad check diversion program to resolve cases without formal criminal prosecution. The diversion programs are still functioning today, and most people who are accused of writing a worthless check are afforded the opportunity to enter the program. Once certain conditions are met, including repayment of the check amount plus fees, the state will drop the charges. Bad check diversion programs though are not available to all defendants, and the state can prosecute if they choose. Prosecutors will look at numerous factors to determine eligibility into a bad check diversion program including the defendant’s criminal record and the amount of the worthless check. Anyone who is deemed to be ineligible for a bad check diversion program should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A lawyer can appeal to the state for reconsideration for the program, and can fight to have the charges dismissed before and after they are formally filed. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida lawyer who specializes in defending clients charged with giving a worthless check or stopping payment with intent to defraud. Benjamin represents clients in the Tri-County jurisdictions of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and is also an experienced Treasure Coast criminal defense lawyer for bad check cases in Martin and St. Lucie County. Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at (954) 543-0305.
Issuing a worthless check less than $150 is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law. If the value of the check is $150 or more third-degree felony charges could be initiated, and the defendant would then face the possibility of up to 5 years in prison, fines and the possibility of a permanent felony conviction. In order for a person to be charged with issuing a worthless check there must be evidence that the person knew at the time of writing the check that it would not be honored by the bank due to insufficient funds. Making a mistake about the availability of funds in a bank account is not a crime, though defendants are often charged as if they intended to defraud the other party. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation why a check does not clear, but once a person is charged a considerable amount of damage has already been done. Retaining a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you feel you may be investigated will increase the odds of avoiding charges in the first place.
Stopping payment on a check with intent to defraud is another common criminal charge that can be avoided by retaining a lawyer before the case goes to the State’s Attorney. Stopping payment on checks happens all the time and is usually done for legitimate reasons, but occasionally a dispute between two parties that should be handled in civil court becomes a criminal case. The filing of criminal charges could create a permanent record that is easily accessible to future employers or business partners, and should be avoided at all costs. South Florida bad check lawyer Benjamin Herbst will fight to make sure you are never charged, and if your case goes to court, he will continue to try to facilitate a dismissal of all charges. Contact Benjamin anytime to discuss your case on the phone or at his Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach offices to learn what defenses may be available to you. Benjamin provides all clients with his cell phone number and is available to answer questions or provide updates on nights and weekends.