The following information explains how to file a worthless check complaint with our office and also what to expect if you have had a complaint filed against you.
FILING A COMPLAINT
What Qualifies as a worthless check
- The check(s) must have been received in Washington or St. Tammany Parishes and must have been in exchange for something of value, for example, case, services, merchandise, etc
- The check(s) must have been processed through a banking system that has indicated the checks(s) was NSF, account closed, no account found, insufficient funds or refer to maker.
- A check in which there has been a stop payment order cannot be prosecuted as a Worthless Check. Stop payment checks should be submitted to your local Justice of the Peace or be litigated civilly. The following checks will not be accepted for prosecution by our office:
– Payroll checks. Contact Federal Office, Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor
– Checks over 120 days old. There is a problem of identification.
– Checks written for “CASH “. Check must be made payable to the person filing charges
– Two-Party Checks. The problem is proving intent to defraud and identification
– Checks with Stop Payment or “Refer to Maker” stamped on them. This is a civil matter
– Credit Card checks
– Pay day or checks made out for a loan
– Checks where there is no physical address. We cannot warrant a P.O. box.
– Out of State checks. We must have bank personnel and witnesses and merchant must write a letter stating that they agree to pay all expenses to transport a bookkeeper of the bank to the appropriate Parish if needed for prosecution.
– Checks without identification. We must have a Driver’s license number or ID number.
Please note that it is difficult to prosecute if checks in which driver’s license or identification provided by the individual who submitted the check differs from the name of the writer. Checks submitted on corporate or out-of-state accounts present problems that are at times insurmountable obstacles to prosecution. An NSF check above $500 is a felony; below that amount a misdemeanor. A check written on a closed account represents fraud and, as of August 2014, is considered a felony if the check was for $750 and above.
- Gather the information on the person who wrote the check. In the State of Louisiana the writer is the individual that will be prosecuted for the check, not the company or business (if the account was written on a company check). We need the check writer’s name, address, driver’s license number and date of birth.
- Send a certified letter to the writer of the check, (please see the sample form below). This is in accordance with the mandate prescribed by LA R.S. 14:71. You must allow the check writer ten (10) days to make the check good after the receipt of the certified letter return receipt. If the writer of the check refuses to accept the certified letter, we will accept the check itself to use in prosecution. If you are contacted by the check writer, and he/she wants to make good the check, please accept only cash, money order or cashier’s check.
- After 10 days and you’ve not received payment, you will need to complete the Worthless Checks Affidavit (see below) and submit (by mail or in person) the original check and the returned certified letter or the signed green receipt card. We will not be able to accept a photo copy. Once you have filed a complaint with our office, you cannot accept or negotiate payment for the tendered check. When the accused has made restitution through the DA’s office, you will be notified via the U.S. Postal Service with the payment attached. We ask that you please allow at least ninety (90) days before calling concerning the status of your case. If at any time after filing your complaint you accept direct payment from the accused, you will be held responsible for the DA fee that otherwise would have been collected.
- Once all paperwork has been submitted, the legal proceedings start. The DA’s office sends two letters — one giving 10 days and one giving 5 days. If restitution has not been made, a warrant is issued.
- If the warrant is issued, call our offices and ask for the warrant number. You will then call your local Sheriff and ask for dispatch. Tell them you are the victim in a check matter and you would like the person to be arrested. Give the dispatch officer the warrant number. The sheriff’s office will then locate the defendant and arrest him/her.
Affidavit – St. Tammany Please note that this Affidavit will need to be notarized. The D.A.’s Office is available to notarize this document for the Affiant (signer of the Affidavit) if the Affiant appears in our Offices with their Driver’s License. Please make an appointment by calling 985-809-8383.
Affidavit – Washington The D.A.’s Office is available to notarize this document for the Affiant (signer of the Affidavit) if the Affiant appears in our Offices with their Driver’s License. Please make an appointment by calling (985) 732-9594.
Tips to Avoid Worthless Checks
- Check the date of the check. Checks should always be dated for the day they are issued.
- Check the ID and record it on the check. Make sure the information on the check and their ID matches
- Make sure the information on the check is clearly written and that the information is consistent on the check, with the written amount and the number mathching
- The signature should be legible. If there is a signature on their Driver’s License, compare the two to see if they are similar
- Avoid post-dated checks
- Avoid checks that are more than a year old
- Most checks have at least one perforated edge and the magnetic ink at the bottom is usually dull with no reflectivity or shine. Look for these elements when viewing a check.
After you’ve signed up for the program, if you take money for the worthless check, you will have to pay the DA’s office its fee.
Yes. The Worthless Check Division will require the check writer to pay a service fee of $25 to cover bank charges a victim incurs in handling the worthless check.
Yes. You can put multiple checks on the affidavit; however, all checks must have been received from a single check writer.
You can either download the form from this site or call the District Attorney’s Office to have the forms faxed or mailed. Or you can pick the forms up at any of our District Attorney’s Offices.
Nothing. There is NO COST for this service to merchants and other victims of worthless checks. The Worthless Check Division will require the writer of the check to pay full restitution of the check, the NSF fee, and any District Attorney’s fees.
For a check to qualify it must have been passed within the 22nd Judicial District. Worthless checks passed in other parishes, counties, or states can be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for that jurisdiction. However, not all District Attorney’s Offices have the worthless check division. You will need to check with the local District Attorney’s Office to see if you can submit the check to them.
There are several reasons that the worthless check division might not be able to enforce restitution: maybe the victim failed to collect sufficient identification at the time of transaction, so there is not enough information to move forward; or partial payment has already been accepted; maybe the check was post-dated, perhaps the check writer has died; or the check was not received in the 22nd JDC. For whichever reason we may not be able to prosecute, but you as a victim can contact your local Justice of the Peace to pursue the matter through small claims court, a collection agency, or with the help of a private attorney.
Forged checks should be immediately submitted to your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office.
Any restitution our office receives on a worthless check will be mailed to you within ten (10) business days.
Certain checks are not eligible for prosecution with the Worthless Check Division. Some of these are considered civil matters, not a criminal offense. Counterfeit or forged checks are considered more serious criminal matters that need to be submitted to the Law Enforcement Offices. Checks there are returned due to a STOP PAYMENT order are a civil matter. To pursue those checks, you will need to contact your local Justice of the Peace. Other worthless checks are impossible to prosecute because proper identification was not taken at the time of the transaction or for other similar reasons. Still other checks do not qualify because they were drafted through the account and do not have a physical signature on the check (signature on file).
Note: If you are unsure whether a check is prosecutable or not, submit it anyway. If the check is not a criminal matter or needs to be submitted through your local Law Enforcement Agency, it will be returned with an explanation of why we cannot accept it for prosecution.
The crime is committed in the jurisdiction where the check was written. It is not in the 22nd District’s jurisdiction just because the person lives there. You will need to contact the District Attorney’s Office in the jurisdiction where the check was written to pursue charges against the check writer.
We want to give the accused an opportunity to make the check good before prosecuting him/her. The letter is also sent certified so that we have proof that they received the notification. If they refuse to accept the letter, we can use just the check to prosecute, but we will also need you to bring in the returned mail to show that it went unaccepted.
The DA’s office is not set up as a collection agency; we are gathering information from you so that we can bring the accused to justice. While doing that, we do attempt to get your money back for you.
No. However, there is a statute of limitations when pursuing criminal charges against a check writer. Any NSF checks valued $500 or below have a 2 year prescription date. Checks $500.01 and more have a four-year prescription date. On Account Closed checks there is a two- year prescription date for checks $750.00 or below. Any Account Closed checks valued at $750.01 or more have a 4 year prescription date.
Payments may either be made by:
Mail Please mail two separate money orders or cashier checks, one made payable to the Victim and the other made payable to the District Attorney’s Office, see our contact information on this web page.
Walk-in Walk-in payments are accepted at our Office, Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30 pm. Our Office will only accept your payment in the form of a Money Order or Cashier Check. We do not accept cash. See our contact information on this web page.