Polk County Criminal District Attorney
William Lee Hon

HOT CHECKS

 

The Misdemeanor Division administers the District Attorney's Hot Check Loss Prevention Program, conducts investigations into patterns of fraud that may be indicated by worthless check schemes, and offers assistance to those who may be victimized by identity theft.

The Hot Check program is to receive complaints of theft arising from the passing of worthless checks and to develop those complaints into prosecutable cases. To help in this effort, the DA's Office provides information to merchants on the proper procedures they should use in accepting a check for payment for a merchant's goods, products, or services. When proper procedures are used, the likelihood of catching the offender, obtaining restitution for the merchant, and getting a conviction against the writer of a hot check greatly increases.

 

FILING A CHECK WITH THE DA


If the check is an NSF check:

  • Send a certified letter to the person who signed the check to the address on the check. If the certified letter is returned unclaimed, wait ten (10) days to file the check with the DA's Office.
  • If the certified letter is claimed, wait ten (10) days from the date the certified letter was signed for as shown on the return receipt before filing the check with the DA's Office.
  • When you file the check with the DA's Office, you must file BOTH the CERTIFIED GREEN CARD RECEIPT AND THE ORIGINAL CHECK along with a notarized Hot Check affidavit which may be obtained from the District Attorney.

If the check was written on a closed account:

  • No notice by certified mail or otherwise is required.

Even if the District Attorney cannot develop a prosecutable case from a hot check you submit, we will still attempt to collect restitution for you as well as the statutory merchant fee to which you are entitled. If the case is a prosecutable case and is filed in court for prosecution, we will require restitution and the merchant fee be paid as a condition of any plea bargain agreement or, if the court agrees, as a condition of probation if probation is granted to the offender by the court. The District Attorney's Office will not dismiss a case solely because the offender pays restitution or because the victim wants to drop charges. Once filed, the criminal case will proceed as any other criminal case would.

Substitute Checks


Federal law now allows banks to replace a check with an imaged substitute check. Your bank may use this process, and you would not receive the actual hot check you received and deposited. It is likely that in the near future original processed paper checks will no longer be available to you, but for a fee you can obtain a substitute check from your bank. The imaged checks you receive with you bank statement are not substitute checks.

Substitute checks from your bank are the only exception to the requirement that the Hot Check Division have the original hot check in order to accept it for collection and prosecution. When all restitution and your merchant fee have been collected from the offender, you will receive that money in a restitution check from the Hot Check Division.

Some Things a Merchant Should Know

  • You should have a check acceptance policy consistent with the information provided on this website and you should follow that policy consistently.
  • The DA's Office cannot accept the following kinds of checks for prosecution:

1.    Post-dated or "hold" checks

2.    Checks not presented to a bank for payment within 30 days of receipt

3.    Checks presented outside Polk County or for services performed outside Polk County

4.    A check given as a substitute for another

5.    Checks received in the mail

6.    Two or more party checks

7.    Checks altered or forged

8.    Checks where no goods, products, or services were given in immediate exchange

9.    Checks given to pay a pre-existing debt

10. Drafts, which are an extension of credit

11. Checks that are not marked or flagged "account closed" or "NSF"

12. Checks where the apparent signer cannot be identified as having actually signed and presented the check

  • If you are not sure how to submit a check to the DA's Office, or if you have any questions about any aspect of accepting a check, call one of the staff of the Misdemeanor Division. He or she will make sure your question gets an answer.
  • Be suspicious of :

1.    Starter checks

2.    Temporary, expired, or out-of-state driver's licenses

3.    Department of Public Safety ID cards (intended for senior citizens and the disabled)

4.    Anyone who cannot produce a driver's license

5.    Any variation between the information on the check, the ID produced and/or the check writer

  • Always keep a copy of everything you send to the DA's Office, Misdemeanor Division

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


I received notice from the District Attorney that some hot checks I wrote have been filed with the DA. What should I do?

You should immediately contact the Misdemeanor Division, find out how much you owe, and make arrangements to pay the checks, the merchant?s fee, and the DA"s fee. If eligible and if you want to, you may be able to pay by installments. You can pay by mail with a money order or cashier's check, and if paying in person, you may pay in cash. As you would expect, the Misdemeanor Division does not accept personal checks. Never send cash in the mail. Do not make restitution to the merchant directly. It will not save you.

Well, I didn't pay the hot checks I wrote and now I have criminal cases filed against me. What do I do?
A warrant has been issued for your arrest. You are advised to surrender to the county sheriff.

OK, now that I have criminal cases filed against me, what happens after I am arrested? If I pay restitution and all the fees and costs, will the criminal cases be dismissed?
Your criminal case will be handled as any criminal case would be. You should have a lawyer and consider his or her advice. Your attorney will advise you about the procedures in a criminal case. Under no circumstances will your criminal case be dismissed just because you pay restitution, fees and costs. The District Attorney is not going to be your banker. Once a criminal case is filed against you, the District Attorney only collects your money while the prosecutor assigned to your case seeks your conviction.

Can I get a list from your office of the hot checks I have written?
You can get a list of hot checks you have written that have been filed with the Misdemeanor Division. You have to appear in person and have a state driver's license or other official photo identification. We will not release the information to anyone but you or your attorney.

If hot checks I have written are filed with your Misdemeanor Division, will I have a criminal record if I pay the checks and fees before a criminal case is filed against me?
You will not have a criminal record for the hot checks filed with the Misdemeanor Division if you pay those checks before a criminal case is filed. However, merely paying the checks you owe will not necessarily prevent a criminal case from being filed. The decision to file a criminal case involves many factors, and no one in the DA's Office can tell you with certainty that a case will not be filed just because you made restitution, although payment of restitution is a factor in making that decision. All in all, you are likely to be better off if you pay the checks and fees than you would be if you don't.

 should have a lawyer and consider his or her advice. Your attorney will advise you about the procedures in a criminal case. Under no circumstances will your criminal case be dismissed just because you pay restitution, fees and costs. The District Attorney is not going to be your banker. Once a criminal case is filed against you, the District Attorney only collects your money while the prosecutor assigned to your case seeks your conviction.

Can I get a list from your office of the hot checks I have written?
You can get a list of hot checks you have written that have been filed with the Misdemeanor Division. You have to appear in person and have a state driver's license or other official photo identification. We will not release the information to anyone but you or your attorney.

If hot checks I have written are filed with your Misdemeanor Division, will I have a criminal record if I pay the checks and fees before a criminal case is filed against me?
You will not have a criminal record for the hot checks filed with the Misdemeanor Division if you pay those checks before a criminal case is filed. However, merely paying the checks you owe will not necessarily prevent a criminal case from being filed. The decision to file a criminal case involves many factors, and no one in the DA's Office can tell you with certainty that a case will not be filed just because you made restitution, although payment of restitution is a factor in making that decision. All in all, you are likely to be better off if you pay the checks and fees than you would be if you don't.