In New Jersey, it is a crime to write a check when the money is not in your account to cover the check. Any check written for more than $200 when that money is not in your account can be charged as a indictable criminal offense which must be handled at the Superior Court in the county in which the crime allegedly occured. If the amount in question is less than $200, the check fraud offense will be handled in the Municipal Court in the municipality in which the crime allegedly occurred.
In New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5 governs bad check offenses and provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:21-5. Bad checks
A person who issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee, commits an offense as provided for in subsection c. of this section. For the purposes of this section as well as in any prosecution for theft committed by means of a bad check, an issuer is presumed to know that the check or money order (other than a post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:
a) The issuer had no account with the drawee at the time the check or order was issued; or
b) Payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, or due to a closed account, after a deposit by the payee into a bank for collection or after presentation to the drawee within 46 days after issue, and the issuer failed to make good within 10 days after receiving notice of that refusal or after notice has been sent to the issuer’s last known address. Notice of refusal may be given to the issuer orally or in writing in any reasonable manner by any person.
c) An offense under this section is:
1) a crime of the second degree if the check or money order is $ 75,000.00 or more;
2) a crime of the third degree if the check or money order is $ 1,000.00 or more but is less than $ 75,000.00;
3) a crime of the fourth degree if the check or money order is $ 200.00 or more but is less than $ 1,000.00;
4) a disorderly persons offense if the check or money order is less than $ 200.00.
Without an experienced criminal defense attorney the penalties you are likely to face for these offenses are measured by the degree of the offense:
° First Degree: 10-20 years in prison
° Second Degree: 5-10 years in prison
° Third Degree: 1-5 years in prison
° Fourth Degree: up to 18 months in prison
° Disorderly Persons Offense: up to 6 months in prison