If you operate a business in Florida and have a customer's check returned for insufficient funds, you can file a criminal complaint with the state attorney's office in your county. The clock starts running from the date on the check, and state law only gives you three years at most to bring legal action against the check writer. However, state attorneys require you to file a complaint at least six months prior to the date the statute of limitations would expire.
Notice to Customer
Before you file a complaint with your local state attorney's office, you must send an official notice to your customer and give him an opportunity to pay the face value of the check plus service fees. Once you send that notice, the customer has 15 days to pay you. You can file a complaint only if your customer fails to pay within that time period.
Use of Collection Agencies
After the mandatory 15-day period has elapsed, you can opt to turn the matter over to a private collection agency rather than filing a criminal complaint. If you go that route, you have to allow the agency 90 days to attempt to collect from the customer before filing a criminal complaint with the state attorney. Florida law permits you to add a collection fee to the total amount due if you sell the debt to a private agency.
Checks Less Than $150
If the face value of the worthless check was less than $150, Florida law classifies the act of writing the check as a first-degree misdemeanor. Charges must be filed within two years from the date on the check. As a business owner, you have a year and a half from the date on the check to file a complaint with the state attorney's office in your county.
Checks for $150 or More
Florida prosecutes the passing of a worthless check with a value of $150 or greater as a third-degree felony. Considering the gravity of the offense, state attorneys have three years from the date on the check to file charges. This means business owners have two and a half years to file a complaint with their local state attorney's office.
Checks for Rent or Payment of Debt
If you are a landlord who received a bad check for rent, Florida law places a two-year statute of limitations on prosecution regardless of the check's amount. The same limitation applies for bad checks written to satisfy all or part of a credit account or installment contract.
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