Bad Checks

What is a bad check?

Bad checks, also known as True-Name Worthless Checks, are checks written to pay for goods or services that are returned by the bank due to:

  • insufficient funds
  • insufficient credit with the bank
  • closure of the account

Is writing a check without the funds or credit to cover it really a crime?

Yes, if the intent is to defraud.  The crime of writing and delivering (uttering) a check with the intent to defraud, and without sufficient funds or credit, is a form of obtaining goods and money under false pretenses.

For punishment purposes, you are guilty of larceny when the bad check is written.

  • Grand larceny, a felony, if the check is written for more than $200
  • Petit larceny, a misdemeanor, if the check is for less than $200

Is this a serious crime?

Yes. If the check is written for over $200, it is a felony and must be investigated by law enforcement.  If the value of the check is less than $200, the crime is a misdemeanor and the merchant will have to contact a magistrate and get a warrant himself.

If the crime is a felony, what do police need to investigate the case?

  • the check must be received in person in Fairfax County when the goods or services are delivered
  • the victim who accepted the check must send a Certified Letter (Return Receipt Requested) to the person who wrote the check and demand full payment within five days of receipt of the letter
  • the victim must have the original check including the bank’s reason for refusing payment

Are all bad check cases criminal cases?

No, in the following cases the crime would be civil, not criminal:

  • Full or partial payment of a debt
  • Stopped payment checks, if there was no intent to defraud
  • Two-party checks – checks written by one person and uttered by another
  • Checks given in payment of a previous bad check
  • Checks written in payment of a past due debt
  • Checks written in payment for rent
  • Checks received through the mail
  • Post-dated checks or checks the victim was asked to hold before depositing
  • Checks signed by someone other than the account holder

If the case is civil, not criminal, what can the victim do to get his money back?

The victim can take the case to civil courts. Contact the Civil and Small Claims Division of the General District Court at 703-246-3012


Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version