• Section 476 of the California State Penal Code defines and addresses the passing of bad checks. You are guilty of forgery if you willfully intend to defraud someone else and, to do so, create, pass or possess a fake or altered bill, note, check or other document for the payment of money or property.

    Insufficient Funds

    Passing a check, draft or money order with insufficient funds is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail or state prison for no longer than a year.

    The $200 Rule

    If the total amount is less than $200, only a county jail stay is warranted, unless the perpetrator is a repeat offender.


    If the payee questions the validity of the check, draft or money order (in legal terms, a "protest") and the check-writer insists it's good, this is admissible as evidence that the check-writer knew what he was doing and was trying to fraudulently pass off a bad check.


    Endorsing or signing a check, draft or money order, and presenting proper identification such as a driver's license, legally establishes the identity of the check-writer.


    Police or other law enforcement agents may collect a fee from the defendant of up to $25 per bad check, in addition to the total amount of bank charges the victim incurred as a result of the bad check.


    California Legal Info: California Codes

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