DA’s bad check unit sees declining offenses

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More than 30 years after being founded, the bad check unit is still in action for the Pike County District Attorney’s Office.

Bruce Matthews, chief investigator for the D.A.’s office, said that the unit is still accepting complaints, prosecuting perpetrators and collecting the money for the merchants. But the unit does see a lot less action these days.

“We don’t have near the kind of bad check traffic that we used to,” Matthews said. “It’s gone way down. As you know, a lot of merchants don’t even accept checks any more and many of the ones who do run them through their own devices.”

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Matthews said that those who have written worthless checks should settle the issue before they get arrested. “It’s advantageous to take care of it on our level,” he said. “If you come in and settle it you’ll only have to pay the fees and restitution. But if you get arrested, you’re going to be paying for court costs as well.”

It is a Class A misdemeanor under Alabama law to write a bad check or otherwise “negotiate a worthless negotiable instrument” with the intent, knowledge or expectation that it will not be honored by the drawee.

This doesn’t automatically get someone off the hook for unknowingly writing a bad check though. A retailer can send a notice to the writer of the bad check notifying them of the dishonored check.

The guilty party must then pay the amount owed plus a service charge of up to $30 within 10 days of receiving the notice or face criminal prosecution.

Retailers are held accountable, however, to send the notice within a reasonable time after the check has been dishonored.

here are also provisions built into the law to make sure that the person who wrote the bad check is identified instead of possibly pursuing the wrong person.

For retailers looking for assistance from the worthless check unit, or for those looking to settle the bad check without facing criminal charges, the Pike County District Attorney’s office can be reached at 334-566-6896.

The office is located at 111 William’s St., Troy, AL.