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Check Division

Frank Crowley Courts Building - 133 N. Riverfront Boulevard, LB 19, Dallas, TX 75207
Phone: (214) 653-3600 • Fax: (214) 653-5774


General Information About the Check Division

The Check Division is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the offense of theft by check.

The Check Division is one of the few divisions that is able to take reports of criminal conduct directly from the victim of the crime. In nearly all other crimes, allegations of criminal conduct are reported to the police and the District Attorney’s Office reviews the police report to decide what, if any, charges are appropriate. The cases that can ordinarily be handled by the Check Division without the necessity of a police report are those in which an individual presents a check in exchange for goods or services and the check is not honored by the financial institution because of insufficient funds, closed account, or a stop payment order.

The division currently has three felony attorneys and two attorneys who handle Class C misdemeanors in the Justice of the Peace Courts. The check division handles cases involving counterfeit money or merchandise, as well as forgery of financial documents and other related crimes such as Identity Theft or Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is it a theft check case or issuance of a bad check case?
A: Under Texas law, a person commits a theft of property or services if that person unlawfully appropriates property or secures performance of a service from the owner by deception. Inducing an owner to give up property by giving the owner a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception if the owner provided the goods in good faith reliance that the check would be honored by the bank on which it was drawn. The key under the law is that the owner must give the merchandise at the time the check writer gives the check. Furthermore, inducing a provider of services to provide services by giving the provider a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception if the service provider provided those services in good faith reliance that the check would be honored by the bank on which it was drawn. Again, the key under the law is that the owner must provide the services at the time the check writer gives the check.

Please note that the following types of checks do not qualify under this criterion:

  1. Held Checks
  2. Post-Dated Checks
  3. Third-Party Checks
  4. Payroll Checks
  5. Checks for Debts Owed
  6. Drafts

In the case of a check like the ones listed above, the check writer may have committed the crime of Issuance of a Bad Check. If our office reviews the complaint and determines that this is the case, we will file the Class C Misdemeanor with the Justice of the Peace in the precinct where the check was passed.

Special Notes:

Payroll Checks: You may not ordinarily file a complaint with us if you received a check as a payroll disbursement and it was dishonored by the bank. You should contact the Texas Workforce Commission at 1-800-832-0243 to determine what recourse is available to you. You may also be able to file a complaint for Issuance of a Bad Check with the Justice of the Peace.

Stop Payment Checks: When a customer directs a bank to stop payment on a particular check, the bank is required to refrain from paying the check. If you receive a check for merchandise and the bank returns the check because of a stop payment order, you may be able to file a complaint against the check writer for theft.

Under Texas law, a check written for merchandise and later not paid because of a stop payment order requires that a special stop payment demand letter be sent. The law gives the check writer 10 days to either return the merchandise or pay the check. Your acceptance of the returned merchandise is not optional. If you get the merchandise back, you may seek compensation for any degradation in the value of the merchandise through the civil courts.

Checks given to pay Debts: In most cases checks given to pay pre-existing debts do not meet the requirements for a theft charge. We do not have debtor prisons and your only recourse is to sue in civil court for the debt. We cannot attempt to put someone in jail for their failure to pay their debts even if they attempt to do so with a bad check. There are times when a Class C Misdemeanor charge of Issuance of a Bad Check can be filed, even on a check written to pay a debt, but the law does not allow for the filing of a Theft by Check case.

Post-Dated Checks, Held Checks, and Drafts: If you willingly accept a check in exchange for merchandise or service and agree to hold it until a later date you have extended credit to the check writer. These checks or drafts do not qualify as Theft of Check cases because you are relying on a promise to pay at a later date. Your recourse is to sue in civil court.

Third Party Checks: In most cases in which you gave merchandise or services in exchange for a check made payable to someone other than yourself or your company, you will not be able to file a complaint with the Check Division. These kinds of checks often prove impossible for us to establish which of the parties had the necessary intent to commit theft.


HOW DO I FILE?

To file a theft by check or Issuance of Bad Check complaint, you must:

  1. Send the statutory notice to the check writer if the check was dishonored by the bank as NSF. If the check was returned Account Closed, the law does not require sending the statutory notice
  2. Fill out the appropriate sworn and notarized complaint form and related documents, and
  3. Submit the complaint form, along with documentary evidence in the form of copies of the notice you sent, postal documents showing the notice was sent, and any invoices, receipts or register tapes showing what was stolen.
Type of Complaint Form Download
Check Complaint Form Get Acrobat Reader
Check-Sight Order Complaint Form Get Acrobat Reader