Texas has strict rules when it comes to writing bad checks. Whether you willfully or accidentally write a check on a bank account with insufficient funds, write a check from a bank where you have no account or sign another person’s name on a check, the penalties are severe.

Writing a bad check is a state jail felony punishable by between 18 and 24 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The conviction stays on your record for five years and affects your ability to get jobs, take out loans and, obviously, open a bank account.

There is no shortage of allegedly fraudulent check writers throughout Texas. Among the most recent examples:

  • One Jourdanton couple faces multiple counts of forgery after police found goods allegedly purchased with fraudulent checks, along with items reportedly stolen from area businesses and alleged drug paraphernalia.
  • Police in Amarillo are looking for a woman wanted in three counties for fraud, forgery and credit card abuse.

Not just writing bad checks

In addition to writing bad checks, forgery that results in a state jail felony can include falsifying a:

  • Will
  • Deed
  • Mortgage
  • Security instrument or agreement
  • Credit card
  • Contract
  • Payment to financial account

Penalties for some other types of forgery are more severe. It is a felony of the third degree if the forgery involves paper money, postage or revenue stamps, or an item issued by a state or national government. Penalties include between two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Forgeries that aren’t state jail or third-degree felonies are considered Class A misdemeanor and are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Forgeries that involve an elderly person are automatically bumped up to the next highest category.

Texas has separate codes for writing a check with insufficient funds and theft by check. If you write a check with insufficient funds, you have 10 days to provide those funds, otherwise you are also guilty of theft by check. The penalties are the same.