Worthless Checks

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Worthless Check Ordinance - City of Janesville

Get a Worthless Check Affidavit form.

Satisfied Worthless Checks

If you have not received a summons, you need to bring in your proof of payment or make sure that the merchant notifies us of your payment. If you have been served with a summons, call our office for an explanation of the procedure at this point. Once the summons is served, the penalties (forfeiture) for this violation may be reduced but may not be dismissed. It is in your best interest to pay the merchant as soon as you are notified that your check has been turned in to the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Procedure and Policies Information for Merchants

The City of Janesville has a worthless check ordinance prohibiting the issuance of checks and other instruments drawn upon closed accounts and accounts with insufficient funds. The ordinance covers worthless checks from $30.00 to $2,500 in the face amount.  The ordinance does not cover "STOP PAYMENT" checks.

This ordinance applies to worthless checks issued after 28 February 1982. For bad checks issued in the amount of $1,000 to $2,500, the applicable date is June 4, 2002.

Janesville’s Worthless Check Ordinance has been highly successful in minimizing the issuance of bad checks locally, in reducing recidivism and in recovering losses for area victims.

Amended New Ordinance

Ordinance

The City’s worthless check ordinance applies to ALL checks between $30.00 and $2,500. The checks must be less than 2 years old.

First, under the ordinance, the MINIMUM face amount of the worthless check MUST be $30.00. Worthless checks which you receive for amounts LESS THAN $30.00 are NOT in violation of Janesville's bad check ordinance and cannot be prosecuted.

Second, under the ordinance, the MAXIMUM face amount which can be prosecuted under the City Ordinance is $2,500.00. For checks issued prior to June 4, 2002, this amount is $1,000.

Third, you MUST still immediately call and notify the City Attorney’s Office when a worthless check has been satisfied.

Fourth, the Common Council has modified the Penalty. This somewhat changes the previous method of prosecution. If the issuer satisfies the worthless check AFTER ISSUANCE OF THE ARREST SUMMONS, he or she will be found guilty by the court and will have to pay a forfeiture (penalty). If the issuer does NOT satisfy the worthless check, the forfeiture will be set by the court at an appropriate monetary amount for each unsatisfied worthless check. If the issuer DOES satisfy the worthless check afterwards, the forfeiture will probably be reduced to $100.00 plus applicable costs for each worthless check satisfied. For checks between $500.00 and $2,500.00, the forfeiture shall be not less than $100.00 nor greater than $1,500.00 plus customary court costs, fees and assessments.

Thus, if the issuer satisfies the worthless check BEFORE the City issues an arrest summons, there will be no arrest, no imposition of forfeiture, and no imposition of service costs. However, once the arrest summons is issued, the served worthless check issuer will have to pay all service costs and either the standard forfeiture of $50.00 - $1,500.00, or other appropriate penalty amount determined by the Court (depending on the face value of the check and other factors and circumstances surrounding that particular issuer and those particular check[s]); or a reduced forfeiture if he or she has satisfied the worthless checks and other factors so warrant.

Fifth, the courts have required, and you must continue to provide: (1) a photocopy of the front and back of each worthless check you bring for prosecution; and, (2) a completed affidavit for EACH worthless check.

Notice of Payment

YOU MUST CALL THE CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE as soon as a worthless check is satisfied to tell us when a check is paid. Upon payment, the lower forfeiture will probably be imposed in those cases in which the arrest summons has been issued. The actual forfeiture, however, is always up to the Court. It is very important that you notify this Office immediately when a check has been paid/made good.

Violation

The City ordinance is violated at the time the check is issued upon a closed account or an account with insufficient funds. A violation also occurs when an issued check is dishonored by a bank or other financial institution upon which the check is drawn because it is drawn upon either a closed account or an account with insufficient funds.

There are many ways to prove that the issuer intended to issue a worthless check. The easiest and most common method to prove intent is when the issuer fails to make the check good within five (5) days of receiving notice of dishonor. That is why it is important for you to notify the issuers and demand satisfaction as soon as you can, and it is best to do this by letter so that you have a record of such notice. Of course, the banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions also notify the worthless check issuers of the fact that their check(s) bounced. The City of Janesville City Attorney's Office also sends out notice letters to the issuers as a "back-up" notice, and often send a third (3rd) notice, too.

Occasionally a bad check issuer will tell us that the first time he or she found out that their check was bad was when they received the City's notice letter. Sometimes this might be true. That is why, if the issuer satisfies the worthless check within five (5) days of the date of the City's notice letter, the City generally will not prosecute that particular violation. But it is important to remember that the violation occurs much earlier than that.

It is also important to remember that the City of Janesville is prosecuting the issuance of worthless checks. The issuance of a worthless check in Janesville is prohibited by ordinance and constitutes a violation of law. The City is not "collecting" the check. The City is not acting as a "collection agency". The issuance of a worthless check is an ordinance violation for which the issuer is being prosecuted. Many worthless checks are not paid by the issuers even after prosecutions. There is no guarantee that a worthless check will be redeemed or made good.

Satisfaction of the worthless check does not mean that a violation has not occurred, nor does satisfaction automatically result in dismissal of the prosecution or a reduced forfeiture. Many issuers and merchants mistakenly believe that once the bad check is satisfied there is no violation or that the prosecution automatically gets dismissed. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

EACH WORTHLESS CHECK VIOLATION is individually reviewed and prosecuted according to the specific facts and circumstances arising out of and surrounding that particular issuer, check, transaction, issuance, series of transactions, and/or series of issuances. In addition, yours might not be the only bad check issued by that person. Do not promise the issuer that his or her prosecution will be dismissed by the City if they make the check good.

You might receive calls or visits from issuers who have satisfied their bad check(s) to you, but they are still prosecuted for the violation. They will ask you to contact us to "dismiss" their case since their bad check(s) is now satisfied. Please make no promises to such persons and, instead, tell them to call the City Attorney’s Office. In order to facilitate uniformity and understanding, the staff here will explain the law, the nature of the prosecution and what is happening in their particular case.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call the Janesville City Attorney’ Office. We will be happy to answer your questions, too. Though this ordinance and law seem "simple," it is sometimes complex, depending the facts of a particular violation.

You may photocopy the worthless check affidavit yourself or obtain additional copies from our Office by phone or mail.

Summary

Janesville’s worthless check ordinance originally went into effect in early 1982. The ordinance has been amended since then to now include all worthless checks in the face amount of $30.00 to $2,500.00 issued upon closed accounts and accounts with insufficient funds.

You must immediately notify the Janesville City Attorney’s Office of each worthless check satisfaction.

Checks made good after notice is issued by the City and BEFORE the arrest summons goes out may or may not result in a dismissal of the charges.

Satisfaction of a worthless check AFTER the City’s arrest summons is served might result in a reduced forfeiture. However, even if the worthless check is satisfied, the issuer will have to pay ALL arrest summons service costs and all other court imposed costs. Each worthless check case is reviewed and prosecuted individually.

Satisfaction of a worthless check does NOT automatically result in either dismissal or a reduced forfeiture.

Tell worthless check issuers to call the Janesville City Attorney’s Office if they have questions and for an explanation of the law, the nature of the prosecution, what is happening, and why, in their particular case.

Again, if you have any questions of any kind, please don't hesitate to contact our office.

Thanks again for your cooperation and help over the years. Together we can continue to effectively and successfully enforce Janesville General Ordinance Section 9.68.020.

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