Definition of Stopping Payment on a Check
Under Section 832.041, Florida Statutes, stopping payment on a check, draft, or other written payment order can be charged as a criminal offense if the check was issued and payment was stopped with the intent to defraud the other party to the transaction.
To prove the crime of Stopping Payment on a Check in Florida, the prosecution must establish five factual elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant issued, made, drew, delivered, or gave a check or other written payment order (with the check or other payment order being made upon a bank, person, or corporation);
- The defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
- The defendant obtained goods or services for or on account of the check or other payment order;
- The defendant stopped payment on the check or other payment order;
- The defendant stopped payment pursuant to the intent to defraud.
Penalties for Stopping Payment
Under Florida law, Stopping Payment on a Check can be classified as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the amount of goods or services secured for or on account of such check.
If the amount of goods or services received on account of the check is $150 or more, the offense can be charged as a third degree felony, with penalties of up 5 years in jail or 5 years probation, and a $5,000 fine.
If the amount of goods or services received is less than $150, the offense is classified as a second degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Defenses to Check Fraud
There are many defenses available to contest a charge of Stopping Payment on a Check, or check fraud.
One example concerns the prosecution’s ability to prove the element of fraud. As discussed above, the intent to defraud is a required element of the charge. It must be proven to exist both at the time the check is issued and at the time payment is stopped on the check. Byrd v. State, 867 So. 2d 1260, 1261 (Fla.1st DCA 2004).
If the required proof is lacking, a conviction for stopping payment cannot be sustained. This will often be the case where an accused stops payment on a check because of a dispute with the seller or service provider, or because of dissatisfaction with the quality of a good or service.
Contact an Attorney
A Florida prosecution for Stopping Payment on a Check with the intent to defraud is a serious matter with devastating repercussions for your personal, professional, and financial future. An attorney is critical to protecting your rights and interests in these types of prosecutions.
If you have been accused of Stopping Payment, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or minimize the potential penalties. contact attorney Steven Sessa today for a free consultation.