If a person writes a check without sufficient funds in an associated account to cover it, the check will bounce, or be returned for insufficient funds. Each state has laws regulating how merchants may respond to bounced checks. In Connecticut, the merchant may file a civil suit and press criminal charges if the check writer does not reimburse him for a bounced check after the merchant has sent several notices regarding the matter.
Posted Notice Requirement
Merchants and other business owners who accept checks must post a notice where customers are likely to see it warning them of the potential consequences of writing bad checks. The notice must include the civil penalties that bad check writers may face, the appropriate Connecticut statute number and an advisory that the check writer may also face criminal penalties.
Civil and Criminal Penalties
As of 2010, civil courts may require the check writer to reimburse the merchant for the value of the check plus pay up to $750 if he has no bank account or $400 if the check is returned for insufficient funds. If the merchant chooses to press criminal charges, the bad check writer may face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. Writing a bad check is a felony charge if the check was for more than $1,000 and a misdemeanor if written for a lesser amount.
Required Written Notices
If a check bounces, the merchant must send the check writer a letter by certified mail at the check writer's last known address or place of business. Usually this letter is sent to the address on the writer's check. The letter must inform the writer that the check was returned; ask him to reimburse the merchant for the amount of the check; and inform him of the potential criminal or civil penalties if he fails to do so. If the check writer does not respond to the letter within 15 days of receipt, the merchant must send a second letter. This letter must inform the check writer that he has 30 days to reimburse the merchant before the merchant takes legal action against him. Both letters must be written in both English and Spanish.
Exception to Civil Penalties
Check writers in Connecticut are exempt from civil penalties for bad checks if the check was written as payment to a utility company or landlord or in payment for a debt on property that has been repossessed. Check writers are not exempt, however, from criminal penalties in these cases.