Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Pennsylvania

I had a check returned I wrote and now recieved a letter from Montgomery detective bureau saying I owe triple the amount for a restitution or will be prosecuted....I have researched thus and came across info that this is actually a collection agency and they face civil suits against these programs...I do not have the funds they are requiring and they won't accept partial payment....will they really prosecute if I can't pay right now...could pay next week but they won't accept that...in fact they are very nasty and intimidating....I have no criminal record and did nor intentionally write a bad check....please advise

Asked on 10/21/13, 11:53 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Glenn Brown Real World Law, P.C.
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Sit down with a consumer bankruptcy attorney and explore your options.

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10/21/13, 2:11 pm
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Hmmm ... there is a civil and criminal worthless check statute in PA.

And bankruptcy will not help if this is a legitimate criminal matter. There is a real Montgomery Detectives Bureau and they do have a worthless check program:

http://www.montcopa.org/index.aspx?NID=154

And it does not matter whether you "intended" to write a bad check or not. A bad check is one which is drawn on a closed account or an account where there are insufficient funds. You intended to write the check and you did not make good on it to the merchant. Therefore you have committed a crime. If you have been contacted by the real Montgomery Detectives Bureau, then my advice to you would be to get this resolved quickly before you let a small problem lead to a criminal problem. A simple phone call to the correct department will indicate whether you have been contacted by the real deal or a scammer.

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4105. Bad checks

(a) Offense defined.--

(1) A person commits an offense if he issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee.

(2) A person commits an offense if he, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee, issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money when the drawee is located within this Commonwealth. A violation of this paragraph shall occur without regard to whether the location of the issuance or passing of the check or similar sight order is within or outside of this Commonwealth. It shall be no defense to a violation of this section that some or all of the acts constituting the offense occurred outside of this Commonwealth.

(b) Presumptions.--For the purposes of this section as well as in any prosecution for theft committed by means of a bad check, the following shall apply:

(1) An issuer is presumed to know that the check or order (other than a post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:

(i) payment was refused because the issuer had no such account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued; or

(ii) payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, upon presentation within 30 days after issue, and the issuer failed to make good within ten days after receiving notice of that refusal.

Notice of refusal may be given to the issuer orally or in writing by any person. Proof that notice was sent by registered or certified mail, regardless of whether a receipt was requested or returned, to the address printed on the check or, if none, then to the issuer's last known address, shall raise a presumption that the notice was received.

(2) A check or order stamped “NSF” or “insufficient funds” shall raise a presumption that payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds.

(3) A check or order stamped “account closed” or “no such account” or “counterfeit” shall raise a presumption that payment was refused by the drawee because the issuer had no such account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued.

(c) Grading.--

(1) An offense under this section is:

(i) a summary offense if the check or order is less than $200;

(ii) a misdemeanor of the third degree if the check or order is $200 or more but less than $500;

(iii) a misdemeanor of the second degree if the check or order is $500 or more but less than $1,000;

(iv) a misdemeanor of the first degree if the check or order is $1,000 or more but is less than $75,000; or

(v) a felony of the third degree if the check or order is $75,000 or more.

(2) When the offense is a third or subsequent offense within a five-year period, regardless of the amount of the check or order and regardless of the grading of the prior offenses, an offense under this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree unless the amount of the check or order involved in the third or subsequent offense is $75,000 or more, then the offense is a felony of the third degree.

(d) Venue.--An offense under subsection (a) may be deemed to have been committed at either the place where the defendant issues or passes the bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money or the place where the financial institution upon which the bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money was drawn is located.

(e) Costs.--Upon conviction under this section the sentence shall include an order for the issuer or passer to reimburse the payee or such other party as the circumstances may indicate for:

(1) The face amount of the check.

(2) Interest at the legal rate on the face amount of the check from the date of dishonor by the drawee.

(3) A service charge if written notice of the service charge was conspicuously displayed on the payee's premises when the check was issued. The service charge shall not exceed $50 unless the payee is charged fees in excess of $50 by financial institutions as a result of such bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money. If the payee is charged fees in excess of $50, then the service charge shall not exceed the actual amount of the fees.

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10/21/13, 10:12 pm

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