Lubbock County, Texas

State Of Texas - County Of Lubbock

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Texas History on Checks

Texas has, since its inception as a nation in 1836 and its later incorporation into the United States, been a jurisdiction that is kind to debtors. This is in contrast to the practices of other states that are much more pro-creditor.
Many of the Americans who came to Texas during the initial Anglo settlement of the area came to start a new life and left behind their old life, including their debts. The letters "GTT" left scrawled on one's door in Kentucky amounted to a form of de facto bankruptcy making it clear to any creditors left behind that their extension of credit was an unwise one.

The nature of the founders of Texas has much to do with its liberal laws in favor of debtors. Considerable protection for debtors is contained in the Texas Constitution. Considerable property is exempt from seizure to pay judgments, for example. The majority of people in Texas are, in fact, judgment proof, meaning that all of the property they own is exempt from seizure to pay debts nor can wages be garnished form payment of most debts.

Our criminal laws are drafted in a way that acknowledges and expands the pro-debtor bias of the constitution. For example, the definitions regarding theft explicitly state that deception for purposes of the theft statute does not include mere failure to perform on one's contracts. Another example is a provision in the probation laws of this state (now called community supervision) which prohibit a judge from revoking probation of a defendant (and imprisoning him) if he/she fails to pay restitution if that defendant can show that he/she is unable to pay restitution.

The law of Issuance of a Bad Check makes it a crime to write a bad check, even if the check is for payment of a pre-exiting debt, but (with the narrow exception of checks written for child support) it carries no imprisonment as punishment. The maximum punishment, in fact, is a fine of $500.00.

With the foregoing historical background, it is easy to understand that Texas does not criminalize the owing of a debt. If a bad check is given to pay a debt, the issuance of that check, while it may be a criminal offense, is not a theft. Instead, it is the non-imprisonment offense of Issuance of a Bad Check.

Phrased another way, a bad check is a lie. If the person who wrote the check led you to believe it was a good check, yet knew it was not good, he or she lied to you. The lie is punished as Issuance of a Bad Check. On the other hand, if a person lies to you in order to get you to give them property or services and you give them the property or services because you believed the lie, the person committed a theft.

Lying with checks and stealing with checks are two separate offenses. Lying about whether a check is good (and introducing it into commerce) is Issuance of a Bad Check . Using a bad check to deceive another out of his/her property is theft. The other check offense involves signing another person's name on a check. That crime is Forgery if done with intent to defraud.

Although in most cases a check given for a pre-existing debt does not meet the requirements for a theft charge, a very narrow exception exists. IF the check writer obtained possession of additional merchandise or secured the performance of further service because he/she paid a pre-existing debt, then the check writer may have stolen the additional merchandise or the further service if he/she would not have been able to obtain the merchandise or service without paying the existing debt. If you think your check may qualify as a theft even though its purpose was for payment of a pre-existing debt because the check writer secured further merchandise or services by writing the check, you may contact us either via email at insert email address.

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