Can “hot check” charges be filed for payments not made because no money was available?

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Can “hot check” charges be filed for payments not made because no money was available?

Asked on October 26, 2011 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As long as the payment was made with a check or similar instrument, then, yes, a "hot check" charge can be filed.  Everyone hears the charges referred to as "hot check", but the actual charge in the penal code is "theft by check."  If money was not available in your account, and you wrote a check anyhow, then it is presumed that you intended to avoid payment and commit a theft.  Sometimes people make mistakes when they balance their checkbook, so the statute requires businesses to send you a notice that the check was refused for insufficient funds.  The purpose of the letter is to give you an opportunity to fix the situation before any charges are filed.  Usually, if you go and talk to the business, pay the amount that you owe, then no criminal charges will ever be filed... because they just want their money.  Avoiding the letter or the business can result in your hot check being referred to the district attorney's office for prosecution.... so the sooner you make your payment or arrange some type of payment plan, the more likely you are to avoid charges.


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