Debts and Credit – Bad Checks – Pennsylvania
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.
TITLE 42 JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE (Pa.C.S.A.)
PART VII CIVIL ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS
CHAPTER 83 PARTICULAR RIGHTS AND IMMUNITIES
SUBCHAPTER A RIGHTS OF ACTION
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8304. Damages in actions on bad checks
(a) General rule. – In a civil action to recover damages and costs following a conviction for passing a bad check pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4105 (relating to bad checks) and failure to make full restitution, the payee shall, upon obtaining judgment, be entitled to recover damages in an amount equal to $100 or triple the amount for which the check was drawn, whichever is greater.
(b) Limitation. – Damages recovered under this section may not exceed by more than $500 the value of the check and shall be awarded only if:
(1) the payee made written demand of the issuer for payment of the amount of the check, including interest and service charges authorized by 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4105 (e), not less than ten days before commencing the action; and
(2) the issuer failed to tender to the payee, prior to commencement of the action an amount of money not less than the amount demanded.
(c) Restriction. – Notwithstanding subsection (a), if partial restitution has been made, damages recovered under this section may not exceed triple the amount of the unpaid restitution.
TITLE 18 CRIMES AND OFFENSES (Pa.C.S.A.)
PART II DEFINITION OF SPECIFIC OFFENSES
CHAPTER 41 FORGERY AND FRAUDULENT PRACTICES
18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4105. Bad checks
(a) Offense defined.
(1) A person commits an offense if he issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee.
(2) A person commits an offense if he, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee, issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money when the drawee is located within this Commonwealth. A violation of this paragraph shall occur without regard to whether the location of the issuance or passing of the check or similar sight order is within or outside of this Commonwealth. It shall be no defense to a violation of this section that some or all of the acts constituting the offense occurred outside of this Commonwealth.
(b) Presumptions. – For the purposes of this section as well as in any prosecution for theft committed by means of a bad check, the following shall apply:
(1) An issuer is presumed to know that the check or order (other than a post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:
(i) payment was refused because the issuer had no such account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued; or
(ii) payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, upon presentation within 30 days after issue, and the issuer failed to make good within ten days after receiving notice of that refusal.
Notice of refusal may be given to the issuer orally or in writing by any person. Proof that notice was sent by registered or certified mail, regardless of whether a receipt was requested or returned, to the address printed on the check or, if none, then to the issuer’s last known address, shall raise a presumption that the notice was received.
(2) A check or order stamped “NSF” or “insufficient funds” shall raise a presumption that payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds.
(3) A check or order stamped “account closed” or “no such account” or “counterfeit” shall raise a presumption that payment was refused by the drawee because the issuer had no such account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued.
(1) An offense under this section is:
(i) a summary offense if the check or order is less than $200;
(ii) a misdemeanor of the third degree if the check or order is $200 or more but less than $500;
(iii) a misdemeanor of the second degree if the check or order is $500 or more but less than $1,000;
(iv) a misdemeanor of the first degree if the check or order is $1,000 or more but is less than $75,000; or
(v) a felony of the third degree if the check or order is $75,000 or more.
(2) When the offense is a third or subsequent offense within a five-year period, regardless of the amount of the check or order and regardless of the grading of the prior offenses, an offense under this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree unless the amount of the check or order involved in the third or subsequent offense 15 $75,000 or more, then the offense is a felony of the third degree.
(d) Venue. – An offense under subsection (a) may be deemed to have been committed at either the place where the defendant issues or passes the bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money or the place where the financial institution upon which the bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money was drawn is located.
(e) Costs. – Upon conviction under this section the sentence shall include an order for the issuer or passer to reimburse the payee or such other party as the circumstances may indicate for:
(1) The face amount of the check.
(2) Interest at the legal rate on the face amount of the check from the date of dishonor by the drawee.
(3) A service charge if written notice of the service charge was conspicuously displayed on the payee’s premises when the check was issued. The service charge shall not exceed $20 unless the payee is charged fees in excess of $20 by financial institutions as a result of such bad check or similar sight order for the payment of money. If the payee is charged fees in excess of $20, then the service charge shall not exceed the actual amount of the fees.