Bad Check Cases
Q. I have been charged with "issuance of a bad check." What are my options?
A. If you are charged with the offense of "issuance of a bad check," a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
You may find information about your case using the "Find My Case and Court Date" service on the Harris County Justice of the Peace Courts' website.
Q. What should I do if a warrant has been issued?
A. If a warrant has been issued, you must act immediately to avoid arrest. However, you remain subject to arrest at any time. You may choose one of the following options:
Post Bail at the Office of the Constable or at the Court:
You may post bail at the office of the Constable or at the Justice Court. Bail may be in the form of a surety bond or a cash bond. A magistrate must consider allowing you a personal bond. For a cash bond, you must tender cash in the form of a cashier's check or money order payable to the Justice of the Peace, in the amount of the bail. When you have posted bail, you will be notified of a court date. You may also post a Cash Bond that allows the cash to be forfeited to satisfy the fine and costs in the event you fail to appear in court.
Pay the Fine at the Justice Court:
You may pay the amount indicated as the acceptable fine either in person at the Justice Court during its normal business hours, or by mailing the fine to the Justice of the Peace. Fines may be paid by cashier's check or money order payable to the Justice of the Peace. Fines may be paid in cash or by credit card, in person, at the office of the Justice of the Peace. If you pay the fine, no further court appearance is necessary.
If you are arrested, you will be required to give bail to secure your release from custody, and appear in court at a later time to answer for this charge.
Q. Should I pay restitution?
A. In assessing your fine, the court may consider mitigating circumstances, for example, that you made restitution to the payee of the check. If you want to make restitution, you may request that the court reschedule your case to allow you an opportunity to make restitution prior to sentencing. You must immediately furnish the court any receipts for restitution that you have made.
Upon conviction, the Justice of the Peace may direct that you make restitution to the payee of the check in an amount not to exceed $500.00, if restitution has not been made.
Q. What should I do if I can't pay the fine immediately?
A. If you cannot pay the total amount of the fine and court costs, you may request the Court to allow you additional time to pay. If you cannot pay the fine and costs at the time they are assessed, you should be prepared to give the court certain financial information to assist the Court in making payment arrangements.
You should be aware that the law provides as follows:
If you pay any part of the fine and costs on or after the 31st day after the date of the judgment of conviction, you must pay a time payment fee of $25.00. (Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 103.003)
If the fine and costs are more than 60 days past due, the Court may refer the judgment to a private attorney or vendor for collection services. You will be charged a collection fee equal to 30% of the amount due. (Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 103.0031)
If you fail to pay the fine and costs as directed, the Court may notify the Department of Public Safety to deny the renewal of your driver's license. You will be required to pay an administrative fee of $30.00 prior to the renewal of your license. (Tex. Transp. Code §706.006)
If you fail to pay the fine and costs as directed, the Court may notify the Department of Transportation to refuse to register your vehicle. You will be required to pay an additional fee prior to registering your vehicle. (Tex. Transp. Code § 502.185)
If you fail to pay the fine and costs as directed, the Court may issue a capias pro fine commanding a peace officer to bring you before the Court or place you in jail until you can be brought before the Court to explain why you have failed to pay the fine and costs. You will be required to pay additional fees in connection with the issuance of the warrant and your arrest and release. (Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 102.011)
In certain circumstances, the Court may require a defendant who fails to pay a previously assessed fine or costs, or who is determined by the court to have insufficient resources or income to pay a fine or costs, to discharge all or part of the fine or costs by performing community service. A defendant who performs community service work is considered to have discharged not less than $50 of fines or costs for each eight (8) hours of community service performed. (Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 45.049)
Q. How do I request a Suspension of Sentence and Deferral of Final Disposition ("Deferred Disposition")?
A.The procedures for a Suspension of Sentence and Deferral of Final Disposition, often called a "deferred disposition," are found in Art. 45.051 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The Justice of the Peace has the discretion to grant you this option.
This procedure requires a plea of "guilty" or "no contest" to the offense with which you are charged, and the payment of all court costs. You will be placed on probation for a period not to exceed 180 days, during which time you will be required to comply with certain specified conditions of probation.
If you timely present satisfactory evidence that you have complied with the requirements of probation, the Justice of the Peace will dismiss the case and there is no final conviction. You may be required to pay a special expense not to exceed the amount of the fine that was originally assessed.
If you do not timely present satisfactory evidence of compliance, the Justice of the Peace will impose the fine assessed which constitutes a final conviction and you will be responsible for the immediate payment of the fine assessed.
This information is furnished to you to provide basic information relative to the law governing procedures for bad check cases in the Harris County Justice Courts.
The Harris County Justices of the Peace and the Clerks of the Harris County Justice Courts are not allowed to give legal advice. You are urged to review the applicable laws and to consult an attorney of your choice for further information or answers to specific legal questions.
You have the right to a trial by a jury and to be represented by an attorney of your choice, or to represent yourself.
Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.