A bounced check is one that is presented in exchange for goods and services, but fails to clear at the bank. This is often due to an oversight on your part. Such cases are quickly and easily remedied. The ones that aren't fall under the bounced or bad check laws.
Bounced check laws were created to ensure that check recipients are repaid for the services or goods that the check issuer received. They are also designed to prosecute people who intentionally write bad checks.
In order to make a criminal case, a prosecutor must prove that you set out to commit fraud in writing a bad check. Otherwise, the case becomes a civil matter, where the bad check receiver sues for damages.
Civil penalties can be damages of as little as £6 to triple the amount of the original check plus legal fees. Criminal penalties can include fines (from £65 to £6,500) and/or a jail sentence of one to 10 years.
Bounced checks that are taken care of quickly do not become an issue. It usually takes a business two to three months and several notices sent in the mail before any legal action is taken.
Once prosecuted, the bounced check fraud charge will guarantee you a criminal record. Depending on the amount of the bad check, you may be looking at a felony charge or two.