Being charged with a criminal offense is never easy. Furthermore, facing New Jersey’s criminal justice system can be one of the scariest experiences in your life. This is especially true if you are facing criminal charges for check fraud. As you will learn throughout this article, depositing, issuing, or otherwise using a fake check in New Jersey is illegal. However, will you automatically go to jail for an alleged deposit of a fake check in New Jersey? Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys from the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain.

Will I Face Jail Time for Depositing a Fake Check in New Jersey?

Check fraud is a criminal offense carrying severe consequences. Depositing a bad or fake check is one of the ways people can engage in this criminal offense. N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-5 defines check fraud. Essentially, this statute makes it illegal to issue or pass a check in exchange for money, knowing the check is bad and won’t be honored by the “drawee.” This statute makes a particular distinction and highlights “acting knowingly” as the criminal act’s driving force.

If you are charged and convicted for depositing a fake check in New Jersey, you can face severe criminal consequences. The extent and severity of your penalties will change depending on your specific circumstances. Nevertheless, a criminal conviction can lead to jail or prison time and steep criminal fines.

Criminal Penalties for Depositing a Fake Check in New Jersey

As we mentioned, check fraud is a serious criminal offense. If you are charged with depositing a fake or bad check – a fraudulent act – you can face severe criminal penalties. The severity of your penalties is tied to the amount of money fraudulently appropriated. For instance, a bad check with a value of less than $200 can be charged as a disorderly person offense – the less severe type of criminal offense in New Jersey. If convicted, you may face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in criminal fines.

However, your penalties can increase exponentially, depending on the value of the bad check. If the deposited bad check has a value of $200 or more but less than $1,000, you may face fourth-degree criminal offense charges – one of the most serious criminal charges. If convicted, you expose yourself to eighteen months in prison and $10,000 in criminal fines.

Furthermore, if your bad check is worth $1,000 or more but less than $75,000, your charges can be elevated to a third-degree crime. A conviction for a third-degree crime in New Jersey can lead to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in criminal fines. Any bad check with a value of $75,000 or more can lead to second-degree crime charges. This means you could spend up to ten years in prison and $150,000 in fines.

Besides jail or prison time for depositing a bad check, your conviction will also result in a criminal record. Having a criminal record in New Jersey – or anywhere else in the U.S. – can have lasting, devastating repercussions. Thus, it is essential to hire an Atlantic City bad check defense attorney who can help you if you face check fraud charges.

What to Do if You Are Charged with Depositing a Bad or Fake Check in New Jersey

If you were charged with depositing a fake check in New Jersey, don’t panic. Many times, there may be a logical explanation as to why such a situation may have happened. Check fraud can sometimes be charged under circumstances that may show there was an honest mistake from the alleged offender on a closer look.

In order to get a conviction for check fraud, the prosecution must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you acted fraudulently by depositing a fake check. They have the heavy burden of showing beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly deposited a bad check. Without intent and actual knowledge of your actions, the prosecution cannot convict you for check fraud.

Furthermore, if you try to stop the check from being cashed by the recipient after knowing there was a problem with it, it can be used as evidence you tried to do the right thing. However, this type of defense should be used carefully and with your attorney’s assistance. In these situations, many variables may come into play. For this reason, it is essential to have the assistance of a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help you fight your charges and let you know what to expect from your case moving forward.

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help if I Was Charged with Depositing a Fake Check?

Facing criminal charges for check fraud is no laughing matter. As we discussed, the consequences and the repercussions of a criminal record can be particularly devastating. Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side can help you safeguard your constitutional rights. Additionally, a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help you build a robust, strategic defense that can include challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution, cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses, and providing the court with a compelling and persuasive defense.

The prosecution will do everything in their power to get a conviction for your charges. But as we said earlier, there is a presumption of innocence that protects you. If the prosecution can’t meet their burden of proof, then you cannot be convicted of your charges. It is always in your best interest to hire a skilled Atlantic City check kiting defense lawyer.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Handling Check Fraud Cases

If you or a loved one was charged with check fraud in New Jersey, there is no time to waste. Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer is essential. Our Atlantic City, NJ criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges and provide you with a robust legal representation. Thanks to our years of experience practicing criminal law, we are able to provide you with the quality legal representation you deserve. To learn more about our legal services in a free, confidential consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.