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Hot Checks

ANGELA ALBERS, CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY
WORTHLESS (BAD) CHECK INFORMER
 


Filing a Report


Acceptance Tips


Eligibility


Reported Hot Check Writers

A Message from
District Attorney Angela Albers


As your District Attorney, I am always concerned about the negative impact of bad checks passed to local businesses. In an effort to combat this problem, I have organized a Bad Check Restitution Program to assist Wood County merchants to obtain full restitution. Please use the information provided to file a report with the Wood County District Attorney’s Office and guard against receiving bad checks in the future.

If you have any questions feel free to call me or my staff and we will be glad to assist you.

Cordially,
Angela Albers
Criminal District Attorney

Filing a Report: Step by Step

  1. Make personal contact with the check writer, if you are unsuccessful send a demand letter providing the check writer ten (10) days to respond and remit payment. A Sample Demand Letter is included in the linked Merchant Packet.

  2. If you do not receive a response or payment from the check writer fill out the Crime Report Form included in the linked Merchant Packet, attach originals or legal copies of all checks (including the front and back of checks) and all supporting documents such as certified mail, return receipt or undelivered letter, notarized Affidavit of Service, copy of Demand Letter and either:

Hand Deliver to:
Wood County District Attorney
100 Main Street, Suite 315
Quitman, Texas 75783

Mail To:
Wood County District Attorney
PO Box 689
Quitman, Texas 75783

Hot Check Division

The Hot Check/Check Fraud Division of the Wood County is managed by District Attorney’s Office. This division is responsible for investigation and prosecution of offenses of theft by check.

Cases that can be handled by the Hot Check/Check Fraud Division without the necessity for a police report are those cases where a person writes his or her own check in exchange for goods, services or cash, and in which the victim can identify that person. An investigation by the Hot Check/Check Fraud Division usually involves obtaining documents and analyzing them, interviewing witnesses by telephone or in person, and making attempts to collect restitution.

If you think that the check you were given is forged, you should contact the police agency for the jurisdiction in the area where you received the check. Because investigation of a forgery case requires resources in excess of those available with the Hot Check/Check Fraud Division, we are unable to accept direct complaints on forgery cases.

The Statutory Notice

The first thing you must do to file a theft by check case is to send the appropriate demand letter to the check writer. For checks written since September 1, 1995, the law requires that potential complainants in check fraud cases send a notice letter containing the exact, specific language spelled out in the statute. A proper notice letter includes the statutory demand language, gives the check writer ten days to pay the check, and is sent by certified mail with return receipt requested. Be sure to keep a photocopy of the demand letter that you send. We will need that copy to prove any theft by check case that goes to trial. Once the green receipt card comes back to you, or the returned letter with the green card still attached (do not open the returned letter!), and more than ten days have elapsed, you may take the next step.
The Complaint Form and related documents are available from the Hot Check/Check Fraud Division of the Wood County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.

Also, to be added to the quarterly newsletter mailing of the Criminal District Attorney Informer, contact 903-763-4515.


WHAT HAPPENS ONCE MY COMPLAINT FORM IS FILED?


Once a complaint is filed with this office, the check writer is notified and given ten days to pay. If you took a driver’s license or identification number, we will check to see who is the owner of that number according to official records. Once all preliminary documentation is collected, an employee of the Check Fraud Division will look carefully at the documents you submitted and determine whether all elements of theft can be met with the information on hand. If not, the employee will take steps to obtain the necessary documents or call you if further information from you is necessary. If payment is not forthcoming, a case is filed in the appropriate court and a warrant issued for the arrest of the check writer. Additional fines and court costs may be assessed at this time.

If the merchandise or service stolen exceeds $1,500.00 or includes a firearm, cattle, horses, sheep or exotic animals, the case will normally be prepared as a felony. Once charging documents are prepared in a felony case, the case will be presented to the Grand Jury. You will be notified if the Grand Jury wishes to speak with you. If the Grand Jury indicts the case arresting documents will issue.

Once arrest documents issue, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office will take over in arresting the defendant. We cannot take further action until the defendant is arrested and the case appears on the court docket. The Assistant District Attorney assigned to the County Court will prosecute misdemeanor cases and the District Attorney or one of the Assistants will prosecute felony cases in District Court. We will attempt to notify you of all significant occurrences regarding the complaint you filed and the resulting case if you keep us apprised of your current address and telephone number. Keep in mind, though, that it will probably take several months to investigate and file a case. Problems with incomplete or inaccurate complaint forms or in obtaining information or bank records will slow the process. If you have not heard from us in the appropriate time, you may contact our office at 903-763-4515.

HOW DO I GET MY MONEY?

Please understand that we will make every effort to collect restitution for you; however, once a case is filed in Court whether restitution is ordered by the court is determined by the judge and thus is beyond our control. Furthermore, many defendants have no money. They’ve spent or used what they stole from you and they don’t have more money to pay you back. A judge may instead order such a defendant to serve time in jail in order to pay his/her debt to society. In that case, restitution may not be collected.

If, however, restitution is received by this office, the office manager will forward restitution payment to you by office check within a matter of days. In the case of court ordered restitution (usually as a term of probation), you will receive all restitution directly from the Wood County Adult Probation Department, 903-763-2256.

We strive to assure the highest quality of life for those who choose to live, work, and play here while protecting the Wood County economic well-being for current and future generations. 

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