1. I just received a bad check. Now what?
You will need to send a Notification Letter via Certified Mail to the bad check writer. You can download a copy of the letter here. Make sure that you save a copy of the letter as well as the Certified Mail receipt. It is also a good idea to attach a green “Return Receipt Postcard” to the letter as well. (This will give you a signature of who signs for the letter). You must allow 10 days for the bad check writer to make good on the check. Make sure that you also include the bad check fee of $27.50 in the amount of restitution to you.
2. What if I don’t hear back from the bad check writer?
Then you will need to assemble the proper paperwork to send to the prosecutor’s office to file check deception charges. We basically need:
1. a copy of the check
2. a copy of the notification letter
3. a copy of the certified mail receipt and/or return receipt postcard
4. bad check affidavit – download here --the more identifiers you can provide us the easier it is for us to find the bad check writer (Date of Birth, SS#, DL#, etc.)
If you have more than one bad check, submit paperwork for the largest check, but also include copies of the smaller checks. We will file on the largest amount but include the other checks in the restitution amount.
3. What happens next?
It usually takes us a couple of weeks to assemble all the necessary paperwork to file charges. Once all of our paperwork is completed we submit charges to the Clerk’s Office where it is assigned to one of the County Courts and an Initial Hearing is scheduled. The bad check writer receives a summons from the court with the date of the Initial Hearing.
4. What happens at the Initial Hearing and do I need to be there?
You do not need to be at the Initial Hearing. The bad check writer will be given a copy of the charges filed against them, a copy of their rights during the proceedings and an opportunity to ask for a Public Defender. The Deputy Prosecutor may offer the Pre-Trial Diversion Program. This program is not available to everyone, but eligibility is up to the Deputy Prosecutor based on previous criminal history, etc. The Pre-Trial Diversion Program is a program designed to provide restitution back to the victim (yourself) and an opportunity for the bad check writer to avoid a conviction on their permanent record. If they pay the diversion fees, make restitution back to you and stay out of trouble for a period of 12 months we agree to dismiss the charges against them.
5. Will the Clerk’s Office notify me of the Bad Check Writer’s court dates?
No, if you want to know when the Initial Hearing is scheduled or any other court date, please call the Check Deception Coordinator at (317) 346-4528.
6. Will I ever need to appear in court?
Possibly, in the unlikely event that the case goes to trial, you and/or your employee (whoever accepted the check) may be asked to appear. You will receive a subpoena from the Deputy Prosecutor handling your case well in advance of the trial.
7. When do I get my money?
It may be awhile, unfortunately. If the bad check writer appears in court and chooses to participate in the Pre-Trial Diversion they have 12 months to comply with the terms of the agreement. Most people want to get the fees done and paid as soon as possible, but some will stretch it out to the bitter end. The bad check writer will pay fees to the Clerk’s Office who will then forward payment on to you. This may come in a lump sum payment or it could be spread out, depending on how the defendant makes payment.
We will make every effort to obtain restitution, but we cannot guarantee that we will get your money back. Sometimes the only option is to have them sit in jail.
8. Can I accept payment after charges have been filed?
Do NOT accept payment without specific approval from the deputy prosecutor handling your case. If a bad check writer either sends payment and/or appears at your establishment to make payment, please call the Check Deception Coordinator at (317) 346-4528 for approval before you accept it. Failure to do so could jeopardize your case and your further eligibility to participate in the program.
9. How much do I pay for the Prosecutor’s Office to file charges?
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! There is no cost for this service to merchants and other victims of bad checks. The bad check writer is required to pay all of the fees to administer the program so it costs the taxpayer nothing as well.
10. Are all checks eligible for the BAD CHECK RESTITUTION PROGRAM?
Checks that are eligible for the program:
- Must have been received in Johnson County.
- Must have been deposited in the bank
- Must be stamped by the bank as either NSF or Account Closed
- Must have been written within the previous 2 years
- Must have the numeric amount and written amount the same
11. What makes a check ineligible for the BAD CHECK RESTITUTION PROGRAM?
A check is ineligible if:
1. It is post-dated
2. Both parties knew there were insufficient funds in the account at the time the check was presented
3. The check writer stopped payment on the check.
4. There is no amount, date or signature on the check
5. It has not been processed by a bank
6. It is a two-party check