Several times a week my firm gets a call from someone who has received a nasty letter from a district attorney’s office indicating that the office is pursuing a bad check. And the bad check was from 1996! Or 2002! Or 1965! Hasn’t the statute of limitations run? Unfortunately, it hasn’t.
I have explained previously that the statute of limitations for most crimes in Mississippi – the time limit that the state has to “commence prosecution” against you – is two years. But I also mentioned that the general statute of limitations of two years in Mississippi is riddled with exceptions. One of those exceptions applies to bad checks. The statute reads like this: “ The passage of time shall never bar prosecution against any person for the offenses of . . . embezzlement, obtaining money or property under false pretenses or by fraud, . . . .” Miss. Code Ann. § 99-1-5. In Mississippi , a false pretense “may be either express or by implication and it may consist of any act, word, symbol, doctrine, or in some instances concealment, calculated and intended to deceive. Neece v. State, 210 So. 2d 657 (Miss. 1968). A bad check fits within this definition.
Further, the Attorney General of Mississippi has weighed in on this with an opinion, which says “Obtaining money or property by use of bad check would be excluded from general two-year statute of limitations.” Horan, July 10, 1991, A.G. Op. #91-0469.
So a bad check that you wrote many, many years ago can come back to haunt you. There is a statutory scheme set up in the Mississippi Code that allows the district attorney in each circuit court district to assist “complainants” (people who got the bad checks) to collect on them, and punish people in court that do not pay them, no matter how long has passed. THIS DOES NOT MEAN that there are not other possible defenses to a bad check charge; it just means that the statute of limitations is probably not one of them.
If you need assistance come see us. We are here to help.