Michigan check fraud arrests are an increasingly common occurrence and can lead to serious criminal penalties if one is convicted. That's why you need an experienced defense attorney if you are accused of one of these offenses, considered a form of white collar crime.
A rash of cases recently cropped up in Battle Creek, about 2 hours southwest of Flint.
- According to the Battle Creek Inquirer, one case involved a pediatric office that reported $87,000 in fraudulent checks written in the organization's name that drew money from its account. Investigating authorities said the checks were written to those in Florida, California and New Jersey.
- In another case, a 56-year-old man said he found fraudulent withdrawals from an account linked to his elderly parents' debit card that totaled about $1,000.
- In Kalamazoo, a woman told authorities two checks had been stolen from her mailbox were used at numerous department stores in the area.
Defining Check Fraud in Michigan
To understand what the penalties are for these and other similar offenses, we must first define what check fraud is. For that, we go to Michigan Compiled Laws 750.131a. This provision outlines several different types of check fraud, and their penalties. These include:
- Uncollected funds. This is also sometimes referred to as "check kiting." It's a form of check fraud wherein an individual intentionally inflates a balance on a bank account by depositing a check from an account with insufficient funds to cover that check. The individual then deposits money before the fraud is discovered.
- Bounced checks. You may be familiar with the term "NSF charge." This is a charge banks impose when there are not enough funds to cover that check. Typically, people have five days to rectify a bad check. After that time frame, Michigan considers it to be check fraud.
- No account check. This is when a person who no longer has an open checking account writes or cashes a check from that account.
- Fraudulent checks. This is when an individual forges a signature or alters the amount or writes an unauthorized check.
A person guilty of these offenses will be deemed guilty of a felony, punishable by a prison term of up to two years and a fine of up to $500.
Defenses Against Check Fraud
In defending you against check fraud, our Flint white collar criminal defense attorneys will closely examine the facts of your case and determine the best course of action. These aren't the sort of cases you can trust to your run-of-the-mill defense lawyers.
Some of the defenses we may assert include:
- No intention to commit fraud. Prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit an act of fraud. Fortunately for you, this can be a difficult proof burden because it requires evidence that shows intent.
- You were unaware you wrote a bad check. In cases of check kiting, for example, prosecutors will need to show you knew when you wrote the check there were insufficient funds to cover it. An experienced attorney can often show you were unaware of it.
- You were under duress. This would be a case where you intentionally committed the crime, but you were coerced by a third party.
Check fraud is a serious crime in Michigan, and authorities will often pursue these cases vigorously. You need a strong defense to help bolster your chances of minimizing the impact to your life.