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Virginia law concerning bounced checks

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by topsites, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I recently had the (dis)pleasure of finding out first hand what the law in Virginia says about bounced checks. This was one of those I doubt they were even going to pay me, as all evidence pointed to playing games (like calling me to ask for directions on WHERE to go pay, the day before I was going to press charges... Then when I attempted to explain, they made it difficult by asking how to get there from a certain location (like across town for example) and playing real dumb and stupid... and so on, and so forth.

    Rule 1: NEVER answer telephone / return call from someone who has bounced a check if you intend to pursue a court-related route. If you accidentally answer the phone or they get a hold of you, excuse yourself by saying you are sorry but you can not talk about it.

    So anyway, I got ticked off and told them I was going to see the magistrate to press criminal charges (mistake) and it was up to them to get the money to me. Here is the problem:

    According to VA law, one can follow up on a bounced check in either one of two ways BUT once you follow one route you can NOT go the other. By informing the person which route you'll follow, you not only limit your options but you severely handicap your chances, period. In my case, I got the money and only the money the check was made for originally.

    Code / Section:
    § 18.2-181. Issuing bad checks, etc., larceny.

    Any person who, with intent to defraud, shall make or draw or utter or deliver any check, draft, or order for the payment of money, upon any bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, knowing, at the time of such making, drawing, uttering or delivering, that the maker or drawer has not sufficient funds in, or credit with, such bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, for the payment of such check, draft or order, although no express representation is made in reference thereto, shall be guilty of larceny; and, if this check, draft, or order has a represented value of $200 or more, such person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. In cases in which such value is less than $200, the person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    The word "credit" as used herein, shall be construed to mean any arrangement or understanding with the bank, trust company, or other depository for the payment of such check, draft or order.

    Any person making, drawing, uttering or delivering any such check, draft or order in payment as a present consideration for goods or services for the purposes set out in this section shall be guilty as provided herein.

    --- Notes: If you pursue the criminal recovery route, you are guaranteed to get your money because of the jail issue BUT you can NOT get any more money except what the check was originally made out for. There is a 5-day time limit in which you must inform the draftor to pay up or else. Of course you can do this via certified letter but I found draftors of bad checks will ignore this method and now you have to wait the 15 days that the post office holds the letter for - Hand-delivered (taped to front door) works best.

    § 8.01-27.2. Civil recovery for giving bad check.

    In the event a check, draft or order, the payment of which has been refused by the drawee because of lack of funds in or credit with such drawee, is not paid in full within thirty days after receipt by the drawer of written notice by registered, certified, or regular mail with the sender retaining an affidavit of service of mailing or other sufficient proof of mailing, which may be a U.S. Postal Certificate of Mailing, from the payee that the check, draft or order has been returned unpaid, the payee may recover from the drawer in a civil action brought by the filing of a warrant in debt, the lesser of $250 or three times the amount of the check, draft or order. The amount recovered as authorized by this section shall be in addition to the amounts authorized for recovery under § 8.01-27.1. No action may be initiated under this section if any action has been initiated under § 18.2-181. The drawer shall be obligated to pay the cost of service and the cost of mailing, as applicable.

    --- Notes: If you pursue the Civil recovery method you can get considerably more than the amount the check was made for but there are NO guarantees you will get paid (even if found guilty, the offender does not go to jail for not paying and nothing further will happen to them if they do not pay) - Yes you can garnish wages / seize assets / etc ... G'f'n luck.

    diz sux if u ask me.
  2. StealthDT

    StealthDT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Check the code on mechanics liens, see if you can place a lien on their property for non-payment. I understand the time limit is 90 days from completion of work. I cleared two lots and didn't get paid. I called the builders office and asked for the tax map numbers for the property. His secretary said "what do you need those for??"

    "My lawyer needs them to file a lien"

    "Hang on a minute, let me get in touch with Dave, don't do anything yet!"

    I had my check the next day, and didn't work for the bums any more.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Thank you for that idea I will do that for the next one, my biggest mistake was when I got tired of listening to the jerk-me-around game I told her I would seek criminal charges (which means I could NOT revert to mechanic's lien because that is Civil which states: No action may be initiated under this section if any action has been initiated under § 18.2-181 <-- That's the criminal part.

    The good news is, on average a check bounces every 2 years for me. Too bad it has to be SO average (the last one was, you guessed it, 2 years ago).
    Then again I should be pleased, the figures for large corporations are much worse: 1 out of every 10 checks bounces.

    And no, once an account goes through collections (my way of saying I have/had a problem getting my money), I *never* service them again. One would think customers who have such a displeasure with me would never call again, but there's always one who will.

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