As defined by the Commonwealth of the Pennsylvania and inclusive of Bucks County, check fraud involves the use of a person’s financial instrument, such as a check, by another person not authorized to do so. Check fraud cases come in many different shapes and sizes, but the element of using a person’s check without permission, with the goal of gaining financial funds for it, often is what leads to the classification of check fraud, which is a felony in the third degree in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Creating a copy of another person’s check, using their account as a fraudulent check, and presenting said check to a financial institution with the intent to deprive the lawful account owner of the money is also covered under the scope of check fraud. Making a fraudulent check with another’s information and account information on it and using that check or presenting it to a bank for payment to that person is check fraud.
Under all check fraud circumstances, the Commonwealth can charge a felony of the third degree and seek a sentence in the range of three and one-half to 7 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine, which means enlisting the help of a skilled Bucks County check fraud lawyer immediately is of critical importance. Working with a check fraud defense attorney who has experience with and knowledge of Pennsylvania courts and procedures can be extremely helpful in mitigating penalties and helping a defendant move forward with their life sooner.
Most common crimes associated with check fraud involve individuals using and/or stealing someone else’s financial document such as a check, forging a signature, and attempting to present that for payment at a financial institution. Additionally, making unauthorized copies of someone else’s check, fraudulently signing the check, and presenting that manufactured, unlawful check for payment at a financial institution can lead to charges of check fraud and forgery, which carries a third-degree felony charge as well.
Check fraud can also include the use of a person’s ATM and/or debit information, whether or not a card is involved or even if a fraudulent card is made. Merely using the information and presenting it for payment is enough to be charged with check fraud.
Check fraud penalties are often developed and determined by the number of times an individual is charged and/or convicted of such, whether it is the first, second, or third offense, and the type of mechanisms a person uses to at financial benefit from another’s account. That is, how did the person go about committing the fraud and what did the person do to further it?
In cases where errors were mistakenly made, alternative sentencing options like diversionary programs may be available. However, in more serious cases involving physical threats or actual harm during a theft or robbery where items are stolen and presented for use, those cases will be charged much more severely.
The severity of penalties depends on the facts, the procurement, and the presentment of such documents for the courts to determine a requisite penalty for check fraud, but because of the felony classification that is given to check fraud cases, one can expect penalties to be harsh.
Fraud cases are prosecuted very seriously in Pennsylvania, and conviction of a felony check fraud charge can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. On top of the stigma that goes along with any felony conviction, a conviction of a fraud crime can permanently change public opinion about a person’s character, and they can be marked as untruthful. Finding future employment can be a nightmarish experience for someone trying to get their life back on track after completing whatever sentencing went along with their felony conviction, so being as proactive as possible is always advised. When facing a sentence for check fraud of multiple years in jail combined with steep fines, only a Bucks County check fraud lawyer will be able to utilize their connections in the area and knowledge of the practice area to build a strong defense and minimize sentencing.