Check kiting is one of the most common check fraud schemes. Many people use check kiting to keep a business afloat or to protect themselves from debt during unemployment. Even if these crimes are committed out of desperation, they can still carry significant penalties. More advanced schemes involving multiple actors and fraud against multiple institutions can result in very high penalties and severe consequences.
If you have been charged with committing check kiting or implicated in a check kiting scheme, contact the Atlantic City check kiting defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our defense attorneys may be able to fight your case and help you avoid charges or severe penalties in your case. For help with your charges, call our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation. Our number is (609) 800-2942.
How Check Kiting Schemes Are Charged in New Jersey
In New Jersey, there is no crime titled “check kiting.” While this is the typical name of the scheme that people commit, the charges usually come under N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-5 for “bad checks.” This offense covers intentionally writing a check from an account that you know has insufficient funds to support the check, which is the core illegal act in a check kiting scheme.
Check kiting usually refers to a scheme that takes advantage of the delay between when a bank allows you to access funds from a check and when the account’s balance is updated. In this scheme, people commonly write checks from an account that has insufficient funds. Then, they will write a check from another account to refill the first account in time for that check to clear. Then they will chase the funds by writing additional checks. Sometimes people will use fraudulent transactions from stores or other businesses or financial institutions to help cover the costs as well.
The core issue in these schemes is that either the recipient of the check or the financial institution is ultimately harmed because there is no money to cover the transaction. Either the business that received the check will give out goods or services without being paid or the bank will cover the funds even though there is not enough money in the accounts to cover the transactions. This is the harm the crime punishes.
Other NJ Criminal Charges Related to Check Kiting and Check Fraud
These check fraud offenses often come with other related charges as well. These crimes can be punished independently, often increasing the overall penalties or number of charges you face.
In an attempt to hide their identity, many people operating check kiting schemes will use false IDs or identity theft to open additional accounts. They may also commit other fraud and forgery offenses along the way. Federal charges are common for offenses like wire fraud or other fraud crimes that affect federally insured banks or fraud offenses that cross state lines.
You may also be charged with conspiracy to commit bad checks if you work with others to affect your check kiting scheme. These offenses punish the act of working together with someone else to commit a crime and are independent of the check fraud charges.
Penalties for Check Kiting in New Jersey
If you were charged with check kiting in New Jersey, you could face severe penalties. Many check kiting schemes can easily grow to become very high dollar crimes, with many check kiting schemes in recent years involving millions of dollars. Check fraud involving certain dollar amounts are charged as different levels of crime with different corresponding penalties:
- Fraud under $200 is a disorderly persons offense with up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
- Fraud of $200 or more but under $1,000 is a fourth degree crime with up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Fraud of $1,000 or more but under $75,000 is a third degree crime with 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Fraud of $75,000 or more is a second degree crime with 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
The amounts in these cases will typically be combined if the fraud was part of one concerted effort. That means that if you wrote 50 $1,000 checks as part of the same fraud scheme, you could be charged with one count of fraud of $50,000 instead of 50 counts of $1,000 fraud. A charge for conspiracy to commit check fraud is like facing a second count of check fraud and could double the penalties.
Other crimes you could be charged with for a check kiting scheme are also graded as disorderly conduct offenses or third through second degree crimes. Rarely, severe crimes are charged as first degree crimes carrying 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
Courts consider many factors when setting your penalties within these ranges. For instance, if you were involved in a criminal conspiracy but you were a low-level actor, you may face lower penalties than those who ran the operation. Other considerations and mitigating circumstances may also lower your sentence, potentially allowing you to serve probation instead of jail time. You may also qualify for a diversionary program called PTI if this is your first offense, potentially avoiding prison and a criminal record altogether. Talk to a lawyer about qualifying for PTI and lowering your sentence.
Call Our Atlantic City Check Kiting Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Check kiting is a serious offense in New Jersey. If you were charged with check fraud or bad checks crimes as part of a check kiting scheme in New Jersey, contact the Atlantic City check kiting defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys may be able to take your case and fight the charges and penalties you could face. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys today at (609) 800-2942.