If you are short on cash, it may be tempting to deposit a check from an account with insufficient funds into your checking account. Because your bank makes the funds you deposit available immediately, you receive a temporary loan. Even if you intend to deposit funds to cover the first check, you may be engaging in check kiting.
Check kiting is an illegal scheme that takes advantage of fund-availability rules. That is, it capitalizes on the amount of time it may take a bank to realize a check is bad. Those who knowingly engage in check kiting may face both federal and state charges.
What are the penalties for check kiting in Florida?
According to Florida law, the penalties for check kiting typically depend on the amount of the worthless check. For small amounts, prosecutors may bring misdemeanor charges. Upon conviction, you may face a jail sentence, fines or both. If the bad check is for $150 or more, however, prosecutors may bring felony charges. A conviction of this third-degree felony may cause you to spend up to five years in prison.
What are the penalties for check kiting in federal court?
Under federal law, check kiting is a type of bank fraud. Depending on the seriousness of the scheme, you may face up to 30 years in federal prison and have to pay a fine of up to $1 million. Even worse, it is possible to face prosecution in both federal and state court for the same check kiting scheme.
While the penalties for check kiting are extreme, there are many possible defenses. Ultimately, mounting an aggressive one may help you avoid the legal and life consequences that often accompany a fraud conviction.