Not all bad checks are criminal in nature and much needs to be done before the police department can begin to consider criminal prosecution.
As in most cases, the desired outcome of the aggrieved party is to retrieve just compensation for the lost transaction. With this in mind, your personal effort in mitigating the issue may be the most successful and expeditious way of bringing this to a successful closure. An apparent civil transaction may turn criminal and these efforts will assist in showing criminal intent and pave the way to successful prosecution.
Several steps need to be taken prior to seeking law enforcement action.
- Contact the writer and seek resolution in an agreed upon time frame. Record dates, times, number of contacts, agreements etc. that will reflect on the writer's awareness, intents, acknowledgments and failures.
- Record the individual's name that received the check and acquire a statement on the particulars of the transaction as soon as possible to preserve as evidence. This will become an important tool in assisting with prosecution.
- If contact cannot be made or the writer refuses to cooperate, a certified letter must be sent to the writer with "return receipt" being requested from the postal delivery person. See sample "notice of dishonor" letter attached.
- If this too fails to resolve the issue, you may consider small claims court to file a civil suit. It can be quite inexpensive and often involves less time than criminal prosecution. Information on filing such a suit can be obtained in the Biddeford District Court with the "civil clerk", located at 25 Adams Street near the Biddeford City Hall.
- Upon receiving notice from bank that the instrument is not being honored, a complaint must be filed with the Saco Police Department within three (3) months (unless sufficient extenuating circumstances exist) to be accepted for prosecution.
Your commitment to appear in court is essential to proceed with criminal prosecution. If an employee received the check, their availability and willingness to appear in court will also be required.
In cases of fraud as evidenced by identity concealment, or misrepresentation, seek guidance from your local law enforcement agency.
Businesses can avoid the above time-consuming procedures by instituting a strict check cashing policy.