1. A "hot check" case shows up as a theft case on your criminal record. A bounced check case should be taken seriously. If you plead to a conviction, even if you only pay a fine, the result is a theft conviction on your criminal record that can never be removed, and which can be found by potential employers.
  2. Even if you didn't intend to steal when you wrote a check, the government might get a presumption that you did. If you bounce a check, the merchant who received the check may send you notice by certified mail (to the address on the check) telling you that the check was dishonored and that you have a certain amount of time to pay off the check. If you fail to pay within the time limit, a court may be allowed to presume that you intended to commit theft when you wrote the check. This presumption can be rebutted, but it is sometimes difficult to do.
  3. Even if you are guilty, it may be possible to keep a theft conviction off of your record. A person charged with theft may be eligible for some disposition of a case that results in the case being dismissed.
  4. Once a Theft case is filed in court, never pay restitution until a deal is reached. Once a prosecutor's office has actually filed a theft case in court, simply paying restitution to the victim does not automatically make the case go away. Once the case is filed, you should allow your attorney to see if an agreement with the prosecutor's office can be reached before you make a restitution payment.
  5. If you knowingly possess stolen property, you can be held just as responsible as if you actually stole it. Under a legal doctrine called the law of parties, if you are found in possession of property that you know is stolen, you can also be charged with Theft.