Dear Attorney Williams:

A friend of mine gave me a check for $1,500 to pay a couple of bills. I suspected that the check wasn’t good, but I didn’t know for sure. Anyway, I deposited the check in the bank and withdrew on it a day later. About a week later, I learned that the check didn’t clear. I was confused because the bank shouldn’t have let me withdraw any money if the check wasn’t good. Although I thought my friend’s check was bad at first, I didn’t think about it again because the bank did let me have the money a day later. Now, I’m left with a $1,500 debt and my friend said she isn’t going to help me pay the bank back.

What should I do? I don’t have that kind of money to pay out. My friend should have to pay some of the money back too.—Reader


Dear Reader:

The best thing that you could do at this point is to make arrangements with the bank to pay back the money. The bank was left with a negative balance and it will not let that balance go unpaid. After that, you may want to seek compensation from your friend through small claims court, if she does not agree to help you pay back the money to the bank.

Reader, you should know that when a check is deposited and a bank permits you or any other customer to withdraw funds off of that check, it does not mean that the check has actually cleared. It may take up to three days or more before the bank actually retrieves the money from the funding source. Therefore, in the future, if you believe that you have a check that will not clear the bank, don’t deposit it.

See Florida Statute Chapter 832 regarding criminal prosecution against the maker of a worthless check. He/she may be subject to criminal misdemeanor charges if the check is less than $150 and felony charges for checks that exceed the aforementioned. The check maker may also be subject to civil action under Florida Statute Chapter 68.065. Contact an attorney who handles civil and criminal matters for more information on your case.

If you have a legal issue on your mind, write me at or PO Box 7231, Tallahassee, Florida 32314.