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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I received and cashed two personal checks written by a business

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I received and cashed two personal checks written by a business in Ohio that I had a contract dispute with and they agreed to send a refund. I cashed both checks, and the total amount was less than the originally paid contract amount. I cashed the checks at their(chase bank) with proper ID. Am I liable under any civil or criminal statutes? They are claiming I wrongfully cashed the second check.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

In order to answer your question, I have a few questions for you:
1. Was either check sent with a letter or statement that it was intended to be a replacement of another check? Or were they sent together?
2. Wen you say "less than the paid contract amount," are you saying that they still owe you more money?
3. Did you ever receive a letter or sign anything agreeing to accept a certain dollar amount in settlement of your dispute? If so, was the amount in the letter equal to the totals on the checks?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.


Both checks were sent separately. I originally made a demand for a refund of the contract money I had paid because the company fail to meet any of their contract obligations. I was told by the owner on daily basis for two weeks that a partial amount of refund was being immediately processed to me. Over a two week period, I got the continuous run around and finally received one check in US mail, and one check by UPS on same day. I presented the checks to their bank with proper ID and was received cash. There was no signed letter or document with the checks, and no signed partial agreement. I was totally unhappy with the company's services, and am still out $250 from the original paid funds to them.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you.

It's not a crime to cash a check that someone voluntarily sent to you and that you believed to be in settlement of a disputed debt. For there to be criminal liability, there has to be criminal intent, and there is no evidence of that here. Even if they tried to press criminal charges, the police would not pursue it.

As far as civil liability goes, if you had a dispute with the company, they sent you checks, and you agreed to accept the checks in order to let the whole thing go, that's called and "accord and satisfaction." That means that they agreed to resolve your dispute by sending you those checks (as did you). You would only be subject to civil liability if there were some paperwork showing that (1) they only intended to send you $X, not $Y and (2) you knew that you weren't entitled to the full amount when you cashed the checks. The judge would look at everything that happened, including whether the two checks were the same amount and whether a reasonable person should have known that they send one check as a replacement for the other (the lack of documentation saying that and the fact that they didn't place a stop payment on the first check would suggest otherwise).

Also, if you did not reach an agreement and they simply mailed you the checks of their own volition, and they sue for reimbursement, you would have the ability to countersue for the $250 you're still out for their breach of contract.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

They are making threats to press criminal charges and to make a complaint to the Colorado Insurance commission. Although, it appears these are veil threats, I want to be sure there is no merit to their ability to bring criminal or civil actions. I am sure the Colorado Insurance commission would summarily dismiss any complaint since it involves a dispute between two business parties, and is clearly not related to any insurance sale or solicitation.


I am sure they didn't intend to refund me two checks, but I firmly believe they owed me that amount and more for their breach of contract. Their bank cleared the checks without issue and I presented proper ID.


 


 

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
I don't see any basis in anything you've said for them to file a dispute with the Insurance Commission. And police will tell them it's a civil matter. They could sue you, and a judge will decide whether you're entitled to the money, but I'd be very, very surprised if either the police agreed to investigate or the DA agreed to prosecute a criminal charge. It's not a crime if I send you money that I owe you and you keep it, even if I made a mistake.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.


So it sounds like if they were to file a criminal complaint from Ohio against me in Colorado, that the CO police would first have to decide to pursue or investigate the complaint, and once the talked with me, they would have to get the DA to agree to prosecute? I just want to make sure I understand the criminal process, because I really wouldn't want to be arrested out of the blue and have to deal with that whole process.....


 


 

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
The Ohio police have no jurisdiction in Colorado, so the company would have to convince Colorado police that a crime occurred. Then, the police would investigate and refer the case to the DA. The DA would have the ability to do nothing, or to file a criminal complaint and send you a notice to appear in court. Police usually wouldn't just show up and arrest a person until you start talking about huge sums of money.

But as soon as they say "We mailed a check..." that should pretty much close the book on any criminal investigation.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 19656
Experience: Lawyer
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