The Check Section of the District Attorney's Office is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the offense of "Theft by check." It is one of the divisions at the District Attorney's Office that is able to take reports of criminal conduct directly from the victim of the crime. The Check Section conducts an investigation that ordinarily involves obtaining documents and analyzing them, and, as necessary, interviewing witnesses. If the case is one that involves checks, but cannot be prosecuted as a theft by check, the complainant will be referred to the police agency with jurisdiction of the case.
Individuals who have received notice of a hot check or feel they may have a check outstanding due to non-sufficient funds and/or account closed contact this office immediately at 210-335-2415, or make restitution on the 1st floor of the Paul Elizondo Tower, 101 W. Nueva, Room 110.2, San Antonio, Texas, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. A drop box is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for money orders and cashier's checks only.
Theft or Bad Check?
Under penal code section 31.03 Theft, a person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property or secures performance of a service from the owner by deception. The key under the law is that the owner must give the merchandise at the time the check writer renders the check. Furthermore, inducing a provider of services to provide services by giving the provider a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception. Again, the key under the law is that the owner must provide the service at the time the check writer renders the check.
Checks Not Qualifying
Please note that the following types of checks do not qualify under this criterion:
- Hold Checks: If you willingly accepted a hold check in exchange for merchandise or a service, you extended credit to the check writer.
- Two-Party Checks: Those kinds of checks often prove to be impossible for us to establish which of the other parties involved possessed the intent to commit the theft.
- Checks for Debts Owed: In most cases checks given to pay pre-existing debts do not meet the requirements for a theft charge.
- Drafts: If you willingly accepted a draft for merchandise or a service, you have extended credit to the check writer.
Filing a Criminal Complaint
In order to file a check complaint with the Check Section of the Bexar County District Attorney's Office you must have the following:
- The Complaint Form (PDF) (Download in PDF format): Complete the worthless check information form with as much information as possible on the check writer and transaction in duplicate form. Optional: you can mail these complaints to our office to be processed; one form will be stamped, dated and returned as a receipt only if a self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed. One form must be completed for each individual from whom you have received a returned check.
- Documentary Evidence: You will need to submit the original check(s), a copy of any correspondence you sent, a copy of any invoices, work order, or cash register receipts regarding the transaction of the check writer. Please make all necessary copies of documentary evidence for your records before submitting your complaint.
- Status Inquiry: Please allow 60 days before a written inquiry is made concerning the case. We will attempt to answer all inquiries but ask that requests be kept to a minimum because of the volume of check complaints received.
Minimize Business Losses to Bad Checks
- Never accept a check without checking and writing down the ID of the person signing the check.
- Always be sure to compare the picture on the ID of the check writer to the person standing in front of you offering the check as payment.
- Never allow the check writer to tell you the ID number. Always look at it yourself and record it carefully.
- Always obtain and verify a physical address for the check writer.
If you file a complaint on the case with the District Attorney's Check Section, you will be required to swear that the person who stood before you was the same person whose ID number you recorded.
High Risk Checks
You'll be safer if you avoid these checks altogether:
- Temporary Checks: Check that are not personalized are often a risk. They do not have the account owner's name printed on each check. How can you know that the person giving you the check owns the account on which the check is drawn?
- Low Numbered Checks: 9 out of 10 bad checks bear numbers smaller than 300.
- Check Writer Presents an ID Other Than a Driver's License: Beware of checks offered by check writers who present for identification passports, green cards, student IDs and military IDs.
- Non-Local Check Writers: Non-local check writers are much harder for us to identify and prosecute. Out-of-state bank records are almost impossible for us to get.
- Non-Residence Address on the Check: A post office box printed on a check as an address rather than a residence has been shown to be a risk factor.
- Illegible Signature on Check: A sloppy signature may be an attempt to prevent easy comparison with the signature on the ID.
- Checks Written for Amounts in Excess of the Cost of Goods Purchased: Cash is a highly desirable commodity to steal.
- Multiple Checks From the Same Account or by the Same Check Writer in the Same Day: The check writer may be stealing as much as possible from you before you find out that the checks will not be honored.
- Check Written Late in the Day: Check writers know when banks close and they know that the merchant cannot verify funds in the account after the bank is closed.
- Company Checks: a check receiver cannot be sure that the person presenting the check is authorized to sign a check drawn on the account; the company gopher probably doesn't know the current balance on the account.
- Two-Party Checks: It is usually impossible for us to establish which of the parties had intent to deceive.
- Pre-Signed Checks: You cannot swear the signer signed the check and nobody can prove the signer knew the amount for which the check would be written.
Recover Losses From Checks That Don't Qualify for Criminal Filing
You can attempt to recover losses suffered by contacting the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center located in the Bexar County Justice Center:
300 Dolorosa St.
San Antonio, TX 78205-3009
The Dispute Resolution Center may also be contacted via email Resolution Center. For further information on how the Check Section can be of assistance to you, contact the District Attorney's Office at 210-335-2415.
Have you received notice from the D.A.?
Individuals who have received notice of a hot check or feel they may have a check outstanding due to non-sufficient funds and/or account closed, contact this office immediately at 210-335-2415 or make restitution on the 1st floor of the Paul Elizondo Tower, 101 W. Nueva, Rm. 110.2, San Antonio, Texas, between the hours of 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. A drop box is available from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM for money orders and cashier's checks only.