Skip to content

Prosecutor talks to business owners about bad checks

BONNE TERRE – Prosecuting Attorney Wendy Wexler Horn met with members of the Downtown Bonne Terre Association about a problem some of them are becoming familiar with – bad checks.

“The courts have a difficult time keeping up with us,” Horn said. “One court day has been set aside a month for bad checks. We had a courtroom full of people yesterday.”

She said they are even thinking of going to two court days a month.

Since 2001, Horn’s office has collected more than $1 million in restitution from bad checks. Restitution can be collected from offenders if they are placed on probation, but it can not be collected if they are sentenced to jail or prison.

Two downtown business owners have complained about recently losing about $1,500 each to a woman who wrote bad checks.

Horn said she is finding that merchants aren’t doing everything they can do to keep themselves from being victimized.

Horn said merchants should always ask for a photo ID before accepting a check. She said it helps them verify that it was that person who wrote the check. She said in a number of situations, the person will say someone else wrote the checks.

“And we do get a lot of legitimate forgery cases,” she said.

She said the check should include a Social Security Number or Driver’s License Number and the person’s date of birth. She said that is really important if there is more than one person by the same name.

“A lot of people complain about the Social Security Number but we have to have it,” she said.

Also, she said merchants should never agree to hold the check for any amount of time. If they do, her office won’t be able to prosecute.

“If the check bounces, do not accept any partial payments on the check,” she said. “Once it is turned over to us, don’t accept any money from the defendant.”

She said that can cause confusion.

The business also needs to send a 10-day notice to the person who issued the check. Once it is sent to the prosecutor, the prosecutor’s office sends two notices before filing charges.

She said bad check writers have a number of opportunities to pay on their checks before they have to come to court.

The statute of limitations on a misdemeanor bad check charge is different than a felony bad check charge.

The prosecutor has up to a year to file charges on a misdemeanor and up to three years to file on a felony.

The offense is a felony when the check value is over $500 or when the check was written on a closed account, regardless of the value.

In Bonne Terre, most misdemeanor check charges are handled through municipal court but felonies are handled by Horn’s office.

Leave a Comment