In the state of Tennessee, when a bad check is written, it is considered a “theft of service,” and is punishable by law. There are some checks that are not prosecutable as worthless checks, including checks that are postdated, forged checks, altered checks and checks that display incomplete fields. Tennessee also has a statue of limitations that govern how much time can pass before a merchant attempts to prosecute a bad check writer.
Tennessee worthless checks are divided into five categories, “Class A,” “Class B,” Class C,” Class D,” and “Class E.” Class E checks are considered a misdemeanor. All other check categories are considered a felony, with the exception of a Class A misdemeanor.
Checks totaling less than $500 are considered a “Class A misdemeanor, and must be prosecuted within 12 months from the date the check is written. Checks totaling $501 or more are considered a felony. For felony checks, prosecution must take place anywhere from four to 15 years from the date the check is written. Class A felony checks must be prosecuted within 15 years, Class B checks within eight years, Class C and Class D checks within four years and Class E checks within two years.
Class A Misdemeanor checks are punishable by up to one year of jail time and up to $2,500 in fines. Class E checks total $501 to $1,000 and are punishable by up to six years of jail time and up to $3,000 in fines. Class D checks total $1,001 to $10,000 and are punishable by 12 years of jail time and up to $5,000 in fines. Class C totals $10,001 to $60,000 and are punishable by up to 15 years of jail time and fines up to $10,000. Class B, $60,000 or more, is punishable by up to 30 years of jail time and up to $25,000 in fines. Class A felonies can result in up to 60 years of jail time and up to $50,000 in fines.
Under Tennessee law, you must notify the check writer of the returned check. The check writer is allowed up to 10 days to pay off the check in full, plus the bounced check fees. If the check writer fails to pay off the debt within 10 days, visit your local District Attorney's office to complete the “Worthless Check” paperwork. The DA's office will take over the check collection procedures. If the check writer fails to pay the DA's office, he can face jail time and/or additional fines.