Legal Beat: Protect Yourself against Bounced Checks

Todd Lappin/Flickr

It happens sometimes.  You work a long day, your employer gives you a check – and it bounces. A check is said to bounce when there are insufficient funds in the employer’s checking account. You get tagged with an overdraft fee because you were counting on that check to cover your rent. What do you do?

Fortunately, there are criminal laws forbidding the practice.  DC Code 22-1510 strictly forbids the behavior under the threat of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for checks in the amount of $100 or less, and up to three years in jail and a $3,000 fine for amounts greater than that.

That is, if a prosecutor establishes that the action was intentional. The best thing to do if your employer’s check bounces is to immediately inform the employer.  If the he or she does not make it right within five days, fraud is presumed, which makes the prosecutor’s job easy.

In all likelihood, the employer will make good on the check, properly apologize and everyone can remain friends after being informed.  If not, then a written demand should be made.  Here again, the D.C. code provides some aid, this time with a form at section 28-3152 (g).  Simply fill it out and mail it to your employer (certified is best with a copy for use as evidence). If there is no response within thirty days, then any lawyer will take the case.

Why is that? The code provides for reasonable attorney fees to collect on bad checks. In addition, the code will even cover your attorney’s filing fees, copies and other costs to bring the matter to the court’s attention. Finally, the court can award damages up to two times the amount of the check, in addition to the value of the check.

Bad checks are serious business for those living on the edge. Fortunately, there are criminal laws against it.  As a result, most bounced checks are accidents. But if the matter is not remedied quickly, the law provides ample incentives for legal help and double damages for victims of bounced checks in the District.

Region |Washington DC

information about New Signature, a Washington DC tech solutions and consulting firm


email updates

We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.