Bad check is the colloquial reference to the term “non-sufficient funds”. Non sufficient funds are used in the banking industry to indicate that a check cannot be honored because insufficient funds are available in the account on which the instrument was drawn. A bad check is a check that is dishonored on presentation to the bank because of insufficient funds in the account of the person who issued the check to honor it or because of a closed bank account. Law treats issuing of bad check as a form of larceny and is generally punished as a misdemeanor. However in some jurisdictions it is treated as a more serious offense if the amount of the check is substantial.
In most jurisdictions, the party who signed the check is normally found guilty, under bad check laws, for passing a fraudulent check. However, the person who knowingly passed the bad check on, or a third party who endorsed the check and passed it on to another party can also be found guilty.
If you have written a bad check and it is returned NSF (non sufficient funds), the best course of action to avoid possible criminal and civil penalties is to immediately contact the individual or company that the check was issued to, and make arrangements to pay them. An affirmative defense is usually provided if the maker of the check, upon notice of dishonor, promptly satisfies the payee. The state laws dealing with bad checks are explained in the following links.