Can I be criminally responsible for unpaid rent?

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Can I be criminally responsible for unpaid rent?

I accidently wrote a bad check to my landlord and rectified it after a criminal complaint application was issued. I was ordered to pay by the Magestrate which I did, but now I have left that apartment and can’t afford to pay the rent for this month. Can I be found criminally responsible for this month’s rent, which has nothing to do with the bounced check.

Asked on May 5, 2009 under Criminal Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

No, this is breach of contract.  Unpaid rent is not really a criminal issue.  It can become a criminal issue if a) you miss court dates when he sues you for the money and b) then found in contempt. 

In terms of "accidentally writing a bad check", check out the law:

CHAPTER 266. CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY

 

Chapter 266: Section 37. Fraudulent checks, etc.; drawing or uttering

 

Section 37. Whoever, with intent to defraud, makes, draws, utters or delivers any check, draft or order for the payment of money upon any bank or other depositary, with knowledge that the maker or drawer has not sufficient funds or credit at such bank or other depositary for the payment of such instrument, although no express representation is made in reference thereto, shall be guilty of attempted larceny, and if money or property or services are obtained thereby shall be guilty of larceny. As against the maker or drawer thereof, the making, drawing, uttering or delivery of such a check, draft or order, payment of which is refused by the drawee, shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud and of knowledge of insufficient funds in, or credit with, such bank or other depositary, unless the maker or drawer shall have paid the holder thereof the amount due thereon, together with all costs and protest fees, within two days after receiving notice that such check, draft or order has not been paid by the drawee. The word “credit”, as used herein, shall be construed to mean an arrangement or understanding with the bank or depositary for the payment of such check, draft or order.


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