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Civil Damages For Passing Bad Checks

Pursuant to Section 2307.61 of the Ohio Revised Code, a person can be sued in a civil court for writing a bad check. The Statute allows for damages which can be significantly higher than the amount of the original check. For example, in a recent case of mine, a women wrote a check for $15.00 to a local business. The check bounced and the woman never honored the check. Eventually, the woman ended up with a judgment against her for over $400.00.

The same Statute says that if a person writes a bad check and does not make it good, then it is a theft offense. The person to whom the check was given can sue in civil court. If the Plaintiff wins the case, they are entitled to damages in an amount three times the value of the check, in addition to collection, bank and reasonable attorney fees. The Statute requires the Plaintiff to send notice that the check was dishonored thirty (30) days prior to filing any lawsuit. If, after the thirty (30) days the check and bank charges are not paid, a complaint can be filed.

The Statute does not require that the civil suit be brought in lieu of criminal charges, so it is theoretically possible for someone to write a check for $500.00, have the check bounce and end up with a civil judgment for about $2,000.00 AND be convicted of a felony, spending six (6) months to a year in prison.

The moral of the story is this....make sure you take a bad check seriously. Even a $10.00 check can cost you over $200.00 in the end!

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