Have you Been Charged with Deposit Account Fraud in Georgia?
Writing bad checks or trying to conduct business using an account that is either closed or has insufficient funds is referred to as deposit account fraud in Georgia. The punishment ranges based on the amount the accused was attempting to defraud. If you or a loved one has been charged with deposit account fraud, you need an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney. This can be a confusing area of law, and it is difficult to navigate on your own. The Office of Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Deposit Account Fraud Lawyers have decades of criminal experience and are here to help you make sense of your charges and give you a better outcome.
Georgia Law on Deposit Account Fraud
In Georgia, the term “instrument” refers to a check or other item used against an account.
O.C.G.A. §16-9-20 states that a person commits the offense of deposit account fraud when such person makes, draws, utters, executes, or delivers an instrument for the payment of money on any bank or other depository in exchange for a present consideration of wages, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee.
The Court will find there is sufficient evidence of deposit account fraud in situations where the accused knew that the instrument would be honored if:
- The accused had no account with the drawee at the time the instrument was made, drawn, uttered, or delivered;
- Payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds upon presentation within 30 days after delivery and the accused or someone for them shall not have tendered the holder thereof the amount due thereon, together with a service charge, within ten days after receiving written notice that payment was refused upon such instrument.
- Notice mailed by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery is returned undelivered to the sender when such notice was mailed within 90 days of dishonor to the person at the address printed on the instrument or given by the accused at the time of issuance of the instrument.
In sum, a person will be guilty of deposit account fraud if they write a check knowing that the account is closed with the bank or when they write a check knowing there are insufficient funds in the account.
Georgia Case Law
Georgia case law has determined that the crime of deposit account fraud has been committed as soon as the check is issued, with the knowledge that the check will be dishonored. Therefore, the check does not have to be actually dishonored for a suspect to be guilty. Once the check is issued, that is enough to be guilty of the crime. Watson v. State, 235 Ga. App. 381, (1998).
A man was convicted of deposit account fraud in Griffith v. State. 249 Ga. 19, (1982). The suspect was the operator of a gas station. He issued a check to a vendor for payment of gasoline deliveries knowing that it was worthless. Therefore, because gasoline was delivered and the suspect paid with a check that was worthless, the Court found there was enough evidence to find him guilty of deposit account fraud.
What Must be Proven to be Convicted
To be convicted of deposit account fraud in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves showing that the accused made, drew, or executed an instrument knowing that the account did not have sufficient funds. Furthermore, it must be shown that the defrauded party suffered a loss resulting from relying on the check, which was bad.
Penalty for Deposit Account Fraud in Georgia
The penalty for deposit account fraud in Georgia ranges based on how much the instrument was for.
- If the instrument was for less than $500, then it will be treated as a misdemeanor with a fine of no more than $500 or jail not to exceed 12 months or both.
- When the instrument is for $500 or more but less than $1,000, it will be treated as a misdemeanor with a penalty of a fine up to $1,000 and jail time up to 12 months, or both.
- When the instrument is between $1,000 and $1,499, the accused will be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
- Finally, if the instrument is greater than $1,500, the accused will be guilty of a felony and will be punished by a fine between $500 and $5,000, prison term for no more than 3 years, or both.
A person will also be guilty of deposit account fraud if they make, draw, utter, execute, or deliver an instrument on a bank of another state. The accused will be guilty of a felony and will face the consequences of a fine up to $1,000 or prison between one and five years, or both.
However, if more than one instrument was involved and they were drawn within 90 days of each other, the amounts may be added to together to arrive at and be punishable under the applicable statute.
In addition to fines or prison term, the accused will be required to make restitution to the victim. The court may require them to pay as interest a monthly payment equal to 1 percent of the amount of the instrument.
Defenses to Deposit Account Fraud in Georgia
It wasn't in exchange for consideration or wages: Giving a check without obtaining any benefit does not constitute a crime. It must be shown that the suspect received something of value in exchange for the check. Brooks v. State, 146 Ga. App. 626, (1978).
Lack of intent to defraud: If the suspect was unaware that there were insufficient funds in the account, that could be a defense to deposit account fraud. The statute requires that the suspect intends to defraud; therefore, any proof that the suspect did not think the check was worthless would be greatly beneficial.
There was no loss to the person defrauded: There must be some sort of loss to the defrauded party in order for the suspect to be guilty of deposit account fraud.
What are Not Defenses
I used to have an account with that bank: It doesn't matter if the account used to be active; as long as it was closed or empty when a check was drawn on the account, then that is enough for deposit account fraud.
Call Lawson and Berry or one of our Georgia Deposit Account Fraud Attorneys to schedule a free consultation. Formulating a defense on your own can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Our Attorneys are highly knowledgeable and will assist you in formulating the best possible defense for your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we are dedicated to being accessible to you- days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on your behalf. Your Attorney will make sure you understand all of your options and advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Don't wait to contact one of our Lawyers. Your future is at stake. Do not sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.