Debts and Credit – Bad Checks – Missouri
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of the law of bad checks, but does contain basic and other provisions.
Missouri Revised Statutes
TITLE XXXVIII – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT; PEACE OFFICERS AND PUBLIC DEFENDERS
Chapter 570 – STEALING AND RELATED OFFENSES
570.123. Civil action for damages for passing bad checks, only original holder may bring action – limitations – notice requirements – payroll checks, action to be against employer. –
In addition to all other penalties provided by law, any person who makes, utters, draws, or delivers any check, draft, or order for the payment of money upon any bank, savings and loan association, credit union, or other depositary, financial institution, person, firm, or corporation which is not honored because of lack of funds or credit to pay or because of not having an account with the drawee and who fails to pay the amount for which such check, draft, or order was made in cash to the holder within thirty days after notice and a written demand for payment, deposited as certified or registered mail in the United States mail and addressed to the maker and to the endorser, if any, of the check, draft, or order at each of their addresses as it appears on the check, draft, or order or to the last known address, shall, in addition to the face amount owing upon such check, draft, or order, be liable to the holder for three times the face amount owed or one hundred dollars, whichever is greater, plus attorney fees incurred in bringing an action pursuant to this section. Only the original holder, whether the holder is a person, bank, savings and loan association, credit union, or other depository, financial institution, firm or corporation, may bring an action under this section. No original holder shall bring an action pursuant to this section if the original holder has been paid the face amount of the check and costs recovered by the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney pursuant to subsection 6 of section 570.120. If the issuer of the check has paid the face amount of the check and costs pursuant to subsection 6 of section 570.120, such payment shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought pursuant to this section. The original holder shall elect to bring an action under this section or section 570.120, but may not bring an action under both sections. In no event shall the damages allowed under this section exceed five hundred dollars, exclusive of attorney fees. In situations involving payroll checks, the damages allowed under this section shall only be assessed against the employer who issued the payroll check and not against the employee to whom the payroll check was issued. The provisions of sections 408.140 and 408.233, RSMo, to the contrary notwithstanding, a lender may bring an action pursuant to this section. The provisions of this section will not apply in cases where there exists a bona fide dispute over the quality of goods sold or services rendered.
570.120. Crime of passing bad checks, penalty – actual notice given, when – administrative handling costs, amount, deposit in fund – use of fund – payroll checks, action, when – service charge may be collected – return of bad check to depositor by financial institution must be on condition that issuer is identifiable.
1. A person commits the crime of passing a bad check when:
(1) With purpose to defraud, the person makes, issues or passes a check or other similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be paid by the drawee, or that there is no such drawee; or
(2) The person makes, issues, or passes a check or other similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that there are insufficient funds in that account or that there is no such account or no drawee and fails to pay the check or sight order within ten days after receiving actual notice in writing that it has not been paid because of insufficient funds or credit with the drawee or because there is no such drawee.
2. As used in subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of this section, actual notice in writing means notice of the nonpayment which is actually received by the defendant. Such notice may include the service of summons or warrant upon the defendant for the initiation of the prosecution of the check or checks which are the subject matter of the prosecution if the summons or warrant contains information of the ten-day period during which the instrument may be paid and that payment of the instrument within such ten-day period will result in dismissal of the charges. The requirement of notice shall also be satisfied for written communications which are tendered to the defendant and which the defendant refuses to accept.
3. The face amounts of any bad checks passed pursuant to one course of conduct within any ten-day period may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.
4. Passing bad checks is a class A misdemeanor, unless:
(1) The face amount of the check or sight order or the aggregated amounts is one hundred fifty dollars or more; or
(2) The issuer had no account with the drawee or if there was no such drawee at the time the check or order was issued, in which cases passing bad checks is a class D felony.
(1) In addition to all other costs and fees allowed by law, each prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney who takes any action pursuant to the provisions of this section shall collect from the issuer in such action an administrative handling cost. The cost shall be five dollars for checks of less than ten dollars, ten dollars for checks of ten dollars but less than one hundred dollars, and twenty-five dollars for checks of one hundred dollars or more. For checks of one hundred dollars or more an additional fee of ten percent of the face amount shall be assessed, with a maximum fee for administrative handling costs not to exceed fifty dollars total. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 50.525 to 50.745, RSMo, the costs provided for in this subsection shall be deposited by the county treasurer into a separate interest-bearing fund to be expended by the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney. The funds shall be expended, upon warrants issued by the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney directing the treasurer to issue checks thereon, only for purposes related to that previously authorized in this section. Any revenues that are not required for the purposes of this section may be placed in the general revenue fund of the county or city not within a county.
(2) The moneys deposited in the fund may be used by the prosecuting or circuit attorney for office supplies, postage, books, training, office equipment, capital outlay, expenses of trial and witness preparation, additional employees for the staff of the prosecuting or circuit attorney and employees’ salaries.
(3) This fund may be audited by the state auditor’s office or the appropriate auditing agency.
(4) If the moneys collected and deposited into this fund are not totally expended annually, then the unexpended balance shall remain in said fund and the balance shall be kept in said fund to accumulate from year to year.
6. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, in addition to the administrative handling costs provided for in subsection 5 of this section, the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney may, in his discretion, collect from the issuer, in addition to the face amount of the check, a reasonable service charge, which along with the face amount of the check shall be turned over to the party to whom the bad check was issued. If the prosecuting attorney or circuit attorney does not collect the service charge and the face amount of the check, the party to whom the check was issued may collect from the issuer a reasonable service charge along with the face amount of the check.
7. In all cases where a prosecutor receives notice from the original holder that a person has violated this section with respect to a payroll check or order, the prosecutor, if he determines there is a violation of this section, shall file an information or seek an indictment within sixty days of such notice and may file an information or seek an indictment thereafter if the prosecutor has failed through neglect or mistake to do so within sixty days of such notice and if he determines there is sufficient evidence shall further prosecute such cases.
8. When any financial institution returns a dishonored check to the person who deposited such check, it shall be in substantially the same physical condition as when deposited, or in such condition as to provide the person who deposited the check the information required to identify the person who wrote the check.