What can I do if I have a customer who wrote a check that bounced?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if I have a customer who wrote a check that bounced?

I have my own incorporated construction company. A customer wrote a post dated check to my company. I took it to the currency exchange and cashed it. The check bounced. Now the currency exchange is threatening me with putting out a warrant for my arrest. I don’t have the $2000 to pay them back and can’t get the money from the customer. Can I be arrested for this bounced check? I believe that there is separation between my company and myself. I was assured by the customer the

funds would be in the account.

Asked on March 30, 2017 under Criminal Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You can only be arrested, charged, or convicted if there is evidence that you knew, or at least reasonably suspected, that the check would bounce; in that case, you knowingly passed a bad check. But if you had no reason to think that it would, then you did nothing *criminal*, because you had no criminal intent.
2) They can, however, sue you for the money: whether you had criminal intent or not, when a check bounces, you have to repay the funds you received from it. If your company was an LLC and the check was made out to the company and cashed by the company, not you personally, they should only be able to sue the LLC, not you.
3) You can sue the customer, if you know their address, for the money. You could sue in small claims court on a cost-effective basis.
4) You can file a police report against the customer and look to press charges against him for passing you a check which he knew or should have known would be dishonored. The charges may encourage him to pay up--one of my clients passed me a bad check and when I filed charges, he ultimately paid.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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