Hot Checks Division

Dear Victoria merchant:

One of the most prevalent and costly crimes that plagues the local business community are Theft by Check. This type of theft can destroy a small business' cash-flow and devastate a business.

Crime Prevention begins with alert, knowledgeable citizens. We prosecute Hot Checks with your help. If you have any questions, please call our Hot Checks Division at 361-575-4812.

We want to help businesses in Victoria County succeed through the prevention and prosecution of theft by check. We will do everything legally possible to collect the restitution owed to you and your business. Our services are FREE, and in addition to collecting restitution, we collect a $30 merchant fee for you.


WHEN TO SUBMIT A HOT CHECK

  • An individual or business writes a check and that check is returned by the bank as either "Insufficient Funds" (NSF) or "Account Closed."
  • The check was given in exchange for goods, services or cash.
  • You or another employee can identify the check writer through their driver's license, thumb print or other method.

PROCEDURE WHEN TAKING A CHECK

Be thorough when accepting a check. Your business should set a policy for all customers, so no one can claim unfair treatment. Ideally, you should post a "checklist" so each cashier can easily see it. "Checklist" should include;

  1. IS IT DATED TODAY?
    a) Checks must be dated the same day they're given.

    b) Post-dated checks cannot be prosecuted.

  2. IS THE SIGNATURE LEGIBLE?
    a) Do not accept previously signed checks.  Have the check signed in your presence to compare with a driver's license or other identification.

    b) If the signature is illegible, print the check writer's name on the "memo" section of the check.

  3. IS THE ADDRESS COMPLETE?
    a) Require a permanent street address.

    b) Don't accept a P.O. Box number, unless you know the check writer.

  4. CAN YOU CONFIRM IDENTITY?
    a) Do not rely on pre-printed ID numbers on the check.

    b) Compare the photo DL or ID with the check writer.

  5. DO THE WRITTEN AMOUNTS AND DOLLAR FIGURE CORRESPOND?
    a) Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.

  6. DOES THE SIGNATURE MATCH THE NAME ON THE ACCOUNT?
    a) Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.

    b) If the signature is illegible, print the check writer's name on the "memo" section of the check.

  7. HAVE YOU RECORDED THE DL/ID NUMBERS?
    a) Record, on the check, the ID/DL number, the issuing state of the identifier, ie. (TX DL# 00000000), as well as the clerk's initial (the clerk who accepted the check).

    b) This procedure allows to later prove the necessary element of identity. The preferred identification of the check writer is a driver's license or State Identification card.

    c) If  the check writer does not have a driver's license or State ID, get their date of birth, gender, and race, minimally.

  8. BUSINESS CHECKS
    a) The law authorizes us to prosecute people not legal entiies, so a business name is not enought; get the name of the person passing the check.

    b) Be sure to document the ID/DL number of the person signing the check. (Do not accept a pre-signed check.)

MERCHANT'S PROCEDURE

  • The check must be presented to the bank for payment or deposit within thirty (30) days of its date of issuance.
  • The check must be stamped with the reason for the bank's refusal to accept the check.
  • Present the check to the Criminal District Attorney's Office within 30 days. Proof of refusal by bank to pay for lack of funds or insufficient funds on presentment within 30 days of issuance. The statute of limitations is two years for a misdemeanor and three years if it is a felony.
  • Complete the Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and Detention (if submitting multiple checks, each check must have an Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and Detention) and all checks are to be listed on the Merchant List of Check form. Submit, along with the returned check(s), to the Criminal District Attorney's Hot Check Division located on the third floor of the Bridge Street Annex Building at 205 N. Bridge St., Suite #301, Victoria, TX 77901.
  • If the check is returned and marked "Account Closed," there is no need to send a certified letter.

What to Bring to the DA's Office

  1. The original check as stamped by the bank, or a legible certified photocopy (of both the front and back) from the bank in lieu of the original.

  2. If the check is for a Theft of Service, please provide a copy of the receipt detailing the services performed.

  3. The completed Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and Detention and Merchant List of Checks. Preprinted forms are also available at the District Attorney's Office. Notary service is available for executing the above-mentioned affidavit.

  4. In some instances, you may be required to provide a narrative affidavit of the events surrounding the transaction made on the tendered check or checks.

Once you have submitted a check to our office and we determine that it meets the above criteria, we will enter the check into our system and proceed to contact the check writer and process a case on the check. Once the District Attorney's Office has accepted the check, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COLLECT on it. If a check writer makes a partial payment, the check will be returned to you by our office and will not be accepted again.

CHECKS WHICH CANNOT BE PROSECUTED:

The following types of checks usually cannot be prosecuted as Theft by Check.  However, we will gladly send a courtesy notice for you. 

  • A check more than two (2) years old, three (3) years for checks over $2,500.
  • A check that is lacking identifying information on the check writer such as their driver's license number or street address.

The following types of checks CANNOT be prosecuted as Theft by Check.

  • A check passed outside of Victoria County.
  • A check where payment was NOT refused by the bank or other drawee for lack of funds or insufficient funds (NFS) or account closed, on presentation within 30 days after issue, and the issuer failed to pay the holder in full within 10 days after receiving notice of that bank refusal. If you present the check to the bank in person, the bank must stamp the reason for return and date it.
  • A check where partial payment has been made.
  • A check given for a returned check.

RANGES OF PUNISHMENT:

Theft by check carries the following maximum penalties in Texas:

  • $500 fine for checks written under $100.00
  • $2,000.00 fine and 6 months in jail for checks written between $100.00-$750.00
  • $4,000.00 fine and 1 year in jail for check written between $750.00 - $2,500.00
  • Confinement in prison and $10,000.00 fine for checks written above $2,500.00

 

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