When I hear the phrase “white collar crime,” I think of a businessman sitting in a cigar-smoke filled room counting all the money he swindled from unsuspecting investors. In reality, white collar crime is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as:

“Fraud and crime committed by managerial and administrative personnel, professionals and public servants.” http://thelawdictionary.org/white-collar-crime/.

So, is passing a worthless check a type of white collar crime? I guess it depends on who passed it and what their intent was when doing so. But for the vast majority of people, it is not.

To be charged with passing a worthless check in Tennessee, someone has to write a check knowing that there is not enough money in the account, or write a check and then stop payment. This seems less like a criminal law issue and more of a civil law issue, but I guess our courts aren’t too busy to punish people for overdrafting.

Nevertheless, in order to convict someone, the state will have to prove intent to commit fraud. This is usually done by showing that the person who wrote the check was notified that the check bounced, and they didn’t pay the amount owed within 10 days. The tricky part is, the law says that notice of the check bouncing “shall be in writing…sent by certified mail with return receipt requested.” T.C.A. 39-14-121(c).

Sometimes people make mistakes. I don’t mean breaking the law, I mean accounting mistakes. You should not have to face criminal charges just because a check you wrote bounced. Especially if the party bringing the criminal charges failed to follow the law in providing notice that the check was worthless. Sometimes, people make mistakes.