Worthless (Hot) Check
Worthless (Hot) Check
The primary purpose of Worthless (Hot) Checks in the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office is to receive complaints of theft arising from the passing of worthless checks and to develop those complaints into prosecutable cases. The staff conducts investigations that ordinarily involve obtaining and analyzing documentation, and as necessary, interviewing witnesses.
In 2014, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office collected over $440,000 in worthless check restitution. In addition, court-ordered probation or jail time resulted in an additional $60,000. The Criminal District Attorney’s Office returned $800,000 to victims, through its restitution account, for criminal offenses not related to worthless check complaints
The Worthless Check Department hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Worthless (Hot) Checks
Criminal Justice Center (basement)
401 W. Belknap Street
Fort Worth, TX 76196
Generally speaking, a potentially prosecutable worthless check is one that is given in the immediate exchange for property or money, or is one given to induce the performance of service or, in special circumstances, at the immediate conclusion of a service.
Eligible bad checks include:
- Checks received in person in immediate exchange for merchandise, personal property, or a service
- The check was processed through a bank within 30 days at least once and returned stamped with the following: “NSF; Account Closed; Refer to Maker; Or Unable to locate.” Certain “stop payment” checks are also allowed.
- The check was passed in Tarrant County.
Ineligible bad checks include:
- Checks that are post-dated, held or received in the mail
- Checks in which both parties knew there were insufficient funds at the time of transaction
- Two-party checks (except payroll checks and only when the original payee is available to testify in court)
- Checks in which the identity of the check writer is unknown
- Checks given to further an illegal activity
- Checks that involve an extension of credit, payment on an account or repayment of a loan
- If you have an “ineligible bad check,” please be advised that you may still have certain remedies available to you under the Civil Laws of the state of Texas. Most of these checks can be filed in Justice of the Peace Courts or you may want to seek the advice of a private attorney.
Filing a Hot Check Complaint
There are certain procedures which must be complied with before this office can accept a “hot check” for prosecution. These procedures are required by law and are as follows:
- A notice letter must be sent to the check writer, allowing ten business days from the receipt of the letter to make restitution. The notice letter MUST contain the required wording of the Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.06 (See below for ‘Notice Letter’ form)
- A notice letter may be sent via certified mail or first class mail with an affidavit of service (See below for `Affidavit of Service’ form)
- A notice letter is not required for checks returned “account closed,” “no account found” or “unable to locate.”
After expiration of the notice period, you may mail or bring the following to our office to file a complaint:
- Three copies of the completed complaint form (See below for ‘Complaint Form’)
- The original returned item from the bank with proof of reason for return
- The original signed postal receipt or affidavit of service
- Copy of the notice letter sent to the check writer
- A copy of the invoice, receipt or provide a statement describing the transaction
- The location where the check was received
- Description of the person presenting the check, including any identifying information obtained at the time the check was presented. Information found after the transaction or received through an Internet search may not be included.
- The first and last name of the person accepting the check and whether they can identify the check writer in court.
The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office utilizes special forms that must be completed by the hot check victim when filing checks with the office. By clicking on the links below, you may open and save a copy of these forms. The forms must be fully read, sworn to and signed before a Notary Public. If filing your complaint in person, our office can provide a notary. If filing your complaint in the mail, we prefer you send your complaint form and all evidence via certified mail.
TIPS FOR SPOTTING BAD CHECKS
- Does the check have a low number or no printed number? If check numbers are lower than 125 or are handwritten, use extra caution
- Is the date on the check accurate? A postdated check may be a defense under Texas law.
- Does the name of the payee appear to be changed or altered?
- Always insist on and confirm identification. Write information on the front of the check. Bank stamps may cover up valuable information written on the back of the checks. Write the initials of the check-receiver on the front of the check.
- Does the picture on the identification match the person presenting the check?
- For business checks, can you read the signature of the person presenting the check? If not, print their name on the front of the check.