The Statute of Limitations in Missouri for a Bad Check

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Bad checks in Missouri equal either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Bad checks in Missouri equal either a felony or a misdemeanor. (Image: check in macro image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com)

Writing a bad check in Missouri is a crime with different levels of punishment based on the circumstances of each case. Like most crimes, the state must charge a person with a crime within a specific period of time. This limit on when a prosecution can be brought, known as the statute of limitations, differs based on the severity of the crime. Talk to a Missouri attorney for legal advice about bad checks and the statutes of limitations.

Elements

Passing a bad check in Missouri is a crime under Missouri Revised Statutes section 570.120. To commit this crime, a person has to knowingly pass a bad or worthless check with the intent to defraud the recipient. This means that a person has to know he does not have enough money in his bank account to cover the check. A person also commits this crime if he writes a check from a bank where he does not have an account or from a bank that does not exist.

Crimes

Passing a bad check in Missouri is considered a class A misdemeanor, according to Missouri Revised Statutes section 570.120(4). However, passing a bad check can also be a class C felony offense in certain conditions. If the face value of the check is $500 or more; if the person making the check did not have an account with the bank on which the check is purportedly drawn; or if the person drew a check from a bank that doesn't exist, the crime is charged as a felony.

Limitations

Missouri Revised Statutes section 556.036 sets out the state's criminal statutes of limitations. The law requires that the government must commence a prosecution for any misdemeanor not specifically addressed in the statute within one year from the date of the occurrence of the offense. For felonies not specifically addressed, the state must begin prosecution within three years from the date of occurrence.

Other Considerations

Missouri Revised Statutes section 556.036 (5) states that a prosecution commences when the state files a criminal complaint against the defendant. This means that the statute of limitations requirement is met if charges are filed within the required time period and does not require that a conviction must be obtained within that time. Also, 556.036 (6) states that the limitation period doesn't run when: the defendant is concealing himself from justice; when the defendant is found mentally incompetent; when a prosecution is pending; or when the defendant is absent from the state. The last condition only extends the statute of limitations for a maximum of up to three years.

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