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Q: Question about a New Jersey Law ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Question about a New Jersey Law
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bjasinski-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 20 Nov 2005 18:39 PST
Expires: 20 Dec 2005 18:39 PST
Question ID: 595613
Could you please define and outline the following NJ law for me: 2C:21-5b?
What are the minimum and maximum penalties if found guilty of this
law?  Also, if a person who has been summoned to appear in court
regarding this law is also in the process of filing for bankrupcy, how
does the bankrupcy figure into the equation?  I am aware that you are
not lawyers.  At this point, I am just trying to get some background
information regarding this law.
Subject: Re: Question about a New Jersey Law
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 20 Nov 2005 19:44 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

Let's take this a step at a time.

Here's the actual code you asked about -- 2C:21-5

TITLE 2C       

2C:21-5  Bad checks.

2C:21-5. A person who issues or passes a check or similar sight order
for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the
drawee, commits an offense as provided for in subsection c. of this
section.  For the purposes of this section as well as in any
prosecution for theft committed by means of a bad check, an issuer is
presumed to know that the check or money order (other than a
post-dated check or order) would not be paid, if:

a.The issuer had no account with the drawee at the time the check or
order was issued;  or

b.Payment was refused by the drawee for lack of funds, or due to a
closed account, after a deposit by the payee into a bank for
collection or after presentation to the drawee within 46 days after
issue, and the issuer failed to make good within 10 days after
receiving notice of that refusal or after notice has been sent to the
issuer's last known address.  Notice of refusal may be given to the
issuer orally or in writing in any reasonable manner by any person.

c.An offense under this section is:

(1)a crime of the second degree if the check or money order is $75,000.00 or more;

(2)a crime of the third degree if the check or money order is
$1,000.00 or more but is less than $75,000.00;

(3)a crime of the fourth degree if the check or money order is $200.00
or more but is less than $1,000.00;

(4)a disorderly persons offense if the check or money order is less than $200.00.

The entire set of NJ laws -- from which the above was excerpted -- can
be found here:

The NJ Attorney General's Office provides some additional context for
the above section, which you may want to look over:
(N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5)

In essence, what the law itself says, and the AG's memo reiterates, is
that passing a bad check is a crime if done knowingly.

That is, if the check-writer knew, or reasonably should have known,
that the check was no good, then it is a crime in New Jersey to have
tried to cash the check.  Furthermore, if the check-writer is notified
that the check was bad, and fails to act to make it good, then that,
too, is considered passing a bad check.

The degree of the crime depends on the size of the check.  A
disorderly conduct sort of offense if the check is under $200, a 4th
degree offense for checks between $200 and $1,000, and so on up the

Bad checks -- particularly the larger ones -- can involve some serious
time.  You can see some sentencing outcomes here:
Bad Checks - 3rd Degree, 4 years 

and here:
Issuing Bad Checks - 3rd Degree, 5 years 

You asked about bankruptcy, and this is as good a time as any to
emphasize the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, here.  I am not a
lawyer.  Google Answers is no substitute for professional legal
advice.  Take everything I say with a grain of salt!

Having said that, my read is that a charge under 2c:21-5 is a criminal
charge, while bankrupcies are a civil matter.  If someone is facing a
charge of passing bad checks, then they may be facing jail time if
convicted.  That is pretty much an independent matter from any
bankruptcy proceedings that are taking place.

If, on the other hand, the outcome of a bad-check case involves
restitution -- paying the recipient of the bad check the amount that
is due them -- then the criminal court and the bankruptcy court will
have to somehow decide between them who has priority over any
available funds, and how the obligation for restitution should be
weighed against the obligation to outstanding creditors.

This is a complex matter, and one that you certainly would need the
services of a legal professional in New Jersey to work out the

I trust this information fully answers your question.  

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.

Best of luck to you,


search strategy -- Google searches on:

nj law

nj ag

followed by site searches for [ 2c:21-5 ] and [ bad checks ]

Request for Answer Clarification by bjasinski-ga on 20 Nov 2005 20:36 PST
I do need some clarification... Are you able to find any information
on minimum and maximum penalties for 4th degree matters (i.e. a check
over $200.00 but less then $1000.00)?  Also, are there any examples of
persons who have been in this situation but have moved and have not
received notices from either the bank that the check was drawn on or
the person/business whom the check was issued to?  Are there any laws
that protect people in this situation?  Could you deduce the likely
outcome of such a matter?

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 22 Nov 2005 19:11 PST
Sorry for the delay in responding, bu the State of NJ website has been
unavailable to me for some reason.

I hope to be able to get to it tomorrow, so I can add some information
to respond to your recent note.

Stay tuned...


Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 23 Nov 2005 11:32 PST
The NJ website seems to be up and running again, and I've been able to
find mention of sentences for Bad Checks-4th degree ranging from 6
months to 3 years.

Of course, there are many variations and variables involved, and I
imagine (and again, I'm not a legal expert) that the judge in a case
has wide latitude to opt for no jail time, a suspended sentence, or
other ways of imposing the will of the courts.

As for your other questions, I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with
NJ case law on bad checks to offer much insight...this is much more a
job for a local lawyer familiar with the territory.

It does seem to me, however, that the language of law is such as to
make a person's intent to commit a crime a very important factor. 
There's a big difference between someone accidentally overdrawing
their checking account (we've all been there!) and someone using a
phony ID, a fake address, having a history of running scams, or
otherwise intentionally commiting fraud with bad checks.

The courts should certainly be aware of the distinctions here.  And
should also be aware that things do happen in life -- mail goes
undelivered, notices get lost, and so on.

But again, it is only a local attorney familiar with cases like these
who can really provide the sort of insight you're looking for.

Hope that helps...and all the best.

bjasinski-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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