Bannock County Prosecutor

Bad Checks

Insufficient Fund Criminal Statute

Idaho Code section 18-3106 makes the writing of insufficient funds checks a criminal offense. A single bad check, or a series of bad checks, in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or more is punishable as a felony. A bad check in the amount of less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) is punishable as a misdemeanor for the first and second convictions. However, a third conviction for passing a bad check under ($250) is punishable as a felony.


The Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office prosecutes offenders of Idaho Code section 18-3106 under limited circumstances. There are certain policy considerations and practical problems that impact how these cases are handled. The primary consideration is whether the individual is acting recklessly or with criminal intent. There is no distinct criteria for determining when a person’s actions will result in a criminal prosecution. Each situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Consideration is made for what may be considered as innocent oversights or honest errors with respect to account balances. A person is considered by the prosecutor’s office to be acting with criminal intent when writing checks on a “closed account.”
The prosecutor’s office also takes into consideration where the individual has acted promptly to honor the bad check and to pay the amount promised in the check and any associated collection costs that may have been incurred. Obviously, such actions have a bearing on how the prosecutor’s office views the person’s original intent in passing the bad check and, further, whether the interest of justice requires the expenditure of public resources to prosecute the offending person.
The prosecutor’s office will not prosecute cases where the business or victim cannot testify that the defendant is the specific person who passed the check. The prosecutor’s office is required by law to prove that the defendant is the person who presented or caused to be presented the bad check. Defendants do claim that they did not write the check or authorize the check to be written. There is frequently no way of disproving these claims. In such cases, the prosecution cannot establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was the person who passed or caused to be passed a bad check. This is the reason that many merchants do, and should, request identification from each person who wishes to use a check, with a notation on the check of which clerk took the check and some indication that they did confirm that the name on the check conformed to the person indicated in the drivers license or other form of identification.