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How long does a debtor have to file civil and criminal charges for a bounced check?

Forest Park, GA |

I had written a check a year ago that was returned. I completely forgot about it and still haven't paid it. How long does the payee have to file a civil suit or press criminal charges? The debt is a year old. Would I have to be notified in writing either way for them to have a case?

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Attorney answers 1


The longer you continue to remain a criminal, the worse things can get. Yes, you can still be sued, and yes you can still be arrested. Additionally, odds are good that you have been reported to ChexSystems, and will be unable, for seven years, to open a bank account.

As for the criminal end, you can be pursued for two to four years, depending on the size of your check. You may be guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the bad check. If the value of the bad check is less than $100, it is a misdemeanor. A fine of $500 and imprisonment up to 12 months may be ordered. If the value of the check is greater than $100 but less than $300, a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment of 12 months may be ordered. A person convicted of deposit account fraud in instances where a bad check exceeds $500 in value is guilty of a felony. Any person who commits deposit account fraud on the bank of another state is also guilty of a felony. Felonies for bad checks carry punishment by imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than five. A fine up to $1,000 may also be ordered. Misdemeanor crimes have two-year statutes of limitations. Felonies must be prosecuted within four years. The time line starts from the date the payee or holder is made aware that the check is bad or insufficient for payment. (Note that if a warrant has already been sworn out, the statute may not matter, and this could be over your head a lot longer).

As for civil liability, likely you face a four year window for suit.

All of which really begs the question - why have you continued to not pay off your bad check and run the risk of arrest? Frankly, that's completely foolish.

Read more: Statute of Limitations and Laws on Bad Checks in Georgia |

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