EXPERIENCED ILLINOIS FRAUD DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
Writing a bad check or writing checks on someone else’s account are serious crimes under Illinois law. Such cases are aggressively prosecuted, with harsh criminal penalties. A theft conviction can also seriously hamper your future employment options.
If you are accused of check fraud or other deceptive practices, call the Wheaton law firm of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., today to arrange a free, confidential consultation. Our proven attorneys can assert your rights and defenses to respond to the charges and ensure you are treated fairly in the criminal justice system. Call us today at (630) 474-8000.
CHECK FRAUD MAY BE A FELONY CRIME
The Illinois statute on deceptive practices makes it a crime to knowingly engage in:
- Writing bad checks (non-sufficient funds)
- Purchasing goods or services and then canceling the check
- Stealing someone else’s checkbook or check blanks
- Unauthorized use of another’s checking account
- Check forgery or possession of implements of check fraud
- False statements to a financial institution to open an account
A first offense of check fraud or theft by bad check is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by jail time, fines and other penalties. However, a deceptive practice rises to a Class 4 felony for repeat offenses or when the amount of fraudulent checks (single or collectively) exceeds $150. A Class 4 crime is subject to a prison sentence as well as a felony record.
In addition to the criminal penalties, you may be subject to civil liability for the fraudulent amount plus triple damages, up to a maximum of $1,500.
An Illinois Check Fraud Conviction Can Often Result in Serious Collateral Consequences
If you are facing allegations of check fraud and have read up to here, you are likely concerned about your future. As the above information makes clear, check fraud is a serious crime in Illinois and one that can result in severe criminal consequences, including jail.
As a person accused of a check fraud, it is important to understand just how the stakes are. If you are convicted, you could be subjected to collateral consequences that could potentially affect you for the rest of your life. The term collateral consequences refers to the consequences of a crime that are NOT imposed by a court.
Many parties, including schools, employers, government agencies, and professional licensing authorities, can impose these consequences. Worst of all, they can continue to affect you long after your debt to society has been paid back in the form of your court-imposed sentence. Here are some of the more serious collateral consequences associated with a check fraud conviction:
- Issues related to professional licensing – Many professional licensing authorities like the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation view crimes of dishonesty (which includes fraud) as particularly negative when it comes to deciding whether to issue a license. As a result, a check fraud conviction could very well have an impact on your ability to keep or get a professional license. Professions that requiring state licensure include law, medicine, real estate, accounting, athlete representation, land surveying, payday lending, and many more.
- Problems keeping or getting a job – Even if you are not in a regulated profession, a check fraud conviction has the potential to have a significant impact on your life. Most employers now make a criminal background check part of the hiring process, and a check fraud conviction could seriously hurt your chances of getting hired. In some cases, it may disqualify you from consideration entirely. In addition, a conviction does not only affect job seekers. Even if you already have a job, your employer is well within his or her rights to let you go if you are convicted of check fraud or any other crime. In fact, you can lose your job even for being accused of a crime, so it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as you realize that you may be under investigation.
- Academic consequences – Most colleges and universities have codes of conduct that prohibit their students from engaging in illegal activity—and check fraud is no exception. As a result, your school could impose significant sanctions on you if you are convicted of check fraud, including probation, suspension, or even expulsion. You could also lose your scholarship any other financial aid that you are receiving. Finally, as many schools ask applicants about their criminal history during the admission process, a check fraud conviction could have an impact on where or whether you can pursue your education in the future.
HOW OUR ATTORNEYS CAN HELP IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH THEFT BY DECEPTIVE PRACTICES
The statute defines knowingly and unauthorized use. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to get the charges dropped if there is evidence of an honest accounting error, permission to use the account or other innocent explanation. Sometimes we can negotiate restitution in lieu of criminal charges or convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a lesser offense.
If the prosecution goes forward, we will make every effort to avoid a felony conviction or minimize the penalties. Our lawyers are former prosecutors with more than 40 years of combined experience in criminal trials.
Check fraud charges are serious and a conviction will follow you for years. Contact to schedule a free consultation. We practice in the courts of DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County. Call us at (630) 474-8000.