By Charles B. Jimerson, Esq.
As the economy continues to tank and dead beat debtors begin to pass more and more bad checks, I have found it to be a prudent time to revisit the laws pertaining to writing bad checks in Florida. In general, the term ‘check’ means a draft, other than a documentary draft, payable on demand and drawn on a bank or a cashier’s check or teller’s check. An instrument may be a check even though it is described by another term, such as ‘money order.’ Fla. Stat. § 673.1041(6). A ‘draft,’ in reference to a check, is a three-party instrument by which the drawer order the drawee to pay money to the payee, and the drawee is a bank.
Fla. Stat. §68.065 (for civil actions to collect worthless checks, drafts, or orders of payment) allows for recovery of treble damages, service charges, attorneys’ fees, and costs if its provisions are not followed. Before litigation is initiated, the form of notice set forth in Fla. Stat. §68.065 must be delivered by certified or registered mail, or by first-class mail, evidenced by an affidavit of service of mail, to the maker or drawer of the check, draft, or order of payment. If notice is properly provided, the maker or drawer will be liable to the payee for, in addition to the amount owing on the check, damages of triple the amount owing, a statutory service charge based on the check amount, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and court costs. If the notice is sent via certified mail and the recipient refuses to claim the notice or sign the postal receipt, the statutory notice requirement is satisfied.