Understanding “Hot Check” Laws in Texas

Have you or a loved one faced criminal charges related to writing a bad check (a.k.a. “hot check”)? If so, it is imperative that you understand your legal rights and the importance of seeking legal representation as soon as possible.

What Is a Hot Check?

A hot check is basically the issuance of a check with a fraudulent purpose, fully knowing that there is not enough balance in the issuer’s account to honor the check. For example, if you write a check for $1,000 knowing that your account only has $100 and cannot cover the full value of the check, you could be charged with this offense.

A person is deemed to be “knowledgeable” of the fact that the check issued was a hot check if either (i) they had no existing bank account at the time of issuance of the check or (ii) they failed to deposit the requisite amount within 10 days from receiving the bank’s notice of insufficient funds.

Penalties Associated with a Hot Check Conviction

A hot check charge is a serious theft related offense, where offenders can end up in prison for a term of one or more years depending upon the seriousness of the act.

Texas Penal Code Section 32.41 deals with the crime of ‘issuance of bad checks’ (or IBC in common parlance) whereas Sections 31.03 and 31.06 discusses the offense of ‘theft by check’ and its probable punishments, depending upon the amount the check was issued for. Punishments are also laid out in Section 12.03 of the Code titled ‘classification of misdemeanors’.

  • A hot check up to a sum of $20 is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 apart from the restitution of the amount of money owed in the check.
  • A hot check between a sum of $21 to $499 is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in county jail or a fine of $2,000 or both, in addition to the restitution of the amount of money owed in the check.
  • A hot check between a sum of $500 to $1499 is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail or a fine of $4,000 or both, as well as the restitution of the amount of money owed in the check.
  • A hot check over $1,500 is a felony and is punishable by referral to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Fighting a Hot Check Charge

A hot check charge can be fought by Galveston, TX criminal defense lawyer Tad A. Nelson. We will carefully consider any one or more of the following commonly used defenses:

  • The check was illegible, incomplete or incorrectly filled out;
  • The check was not deposited with the bank in a timely manner (usually within 30 days);
  • The check did not have the required number of signatures (especially true in case of joint account holders when both the owners need to sign);
  • The signature on the check was forged;
  • The check was made to sign under conditions of involuntary intoxication or insanity;
  • The recipient of the check promised to hold the check for some time before depositing it;
  • The check was post-dated, meaning it could not be cashed until a future date irrespective of availability of funds;
  • The recipient of the check knew that the issuer of the check did not have the necessary funds in his/her account;
  • The issuer of the check had deliberately stopped payment due to reasons other than insufficiency of funds; or
  • The bank failed to stamp the check or did not acknowledge the reason it was is honored.

Contact a Hot Check Defense Lawyer Today

At The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates you can expect our legal team of experience criminal defense lawyers to take out the time required to conduct a competent investigation into the state’s claims against you, as well as invest the time to understand you, and how these hot check allegations may impact you and your family, and the best way to fight them. Contact the office today to discuss your case.