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Is it a Crime to Issue a Bad Check in Virginia?


The Virginia Criminal Code features numerous laws against theft, larceny, and fraud. Additionally, this category of state crime includes other offenses, such as the issuance of bad checks. Under Virginia law, any person who intentionally issues a check with insufficient funds can face criminal punishment for their actions.

What is the Definition of a Bad Check?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-181 defines the term “bad check” under state law. This term refers to checks, drafts, and other financial instruments that are executed knowingly and with fraudulent intent. Under Virginia law, bad checks can be issued with the intent of obtaining money or credit.

There are several key elements to Virginia’s bad check law. One element of this offense is the requirement of fraudulent intent. In order to qualify as a violation of Section 18.2-181, the alleged offender must use — or attempt to use — a bad check to further fraud, theft, or a similar offense.

Another key element to this offense is the knowledge requirement. The alleged offender must know — or have a reason to know — that there are insufficient funds in their account. Otherwise, it likely does not qualify as a violation of Section 18.2-181.

What is the Penalty for Issuing a Bad Check?

Section 18.2-181 also provides the penalty for issuing a bad check or similar instrument with fraudulent intent. The penalty fluctuates based on the amount of value in question. If the represented value was:

  • Less than $1,000 — The offender is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines; or
  • More than $1,000 — The offender is guilty of a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and $2,500 in criminal fines.

Is There a Different Penalty for Issuing Multiple Bad Checks?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-181 establishes the state laws against the issuance of multiple bad checks within a 90-day period. It qualifies as a violation of this section if a person fraudulently issues multiple bad checks within that timespan that add up to $1,000 or more. Additionally, the bad checks in question must be:

  • From the same account of any bank, banking institution, trust company, or similar depository; and
  • Made payable to the same corporation, firm, or person.

Any person who violates Section 18.2-181.1 is guilty of a Class 6 felony. If convicted, the maximum punishment will be substantively similar to the one described above.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have legal questions about Virginia charges for bad checks or other forms of fraud, it can be extremely constructive to contact an accomplished Leesburg larceny, theft & fraud lawyer. The lawyers at Simms Showers LLP have earned awards and accomplishments for their skill in criminal defense, including skill in criminal defense for bad checks and other forms of fraud. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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