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Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 871
Experience:  Partner at Kent Law Group, LLC
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Can you cash a blank check? It's made out in my name from a

Customer Question

Can you cash a blank check? It's made out in my name from a lawyer who I retained.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry - I don't understand your question... your lawyer sent you a blank check?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Exactly. Initially I hired a 'debt consolidation' firm. Progress (after 1.5yr) was nothing. I considered bankruptcy and hired lawyer #2; quitting the consolidation firm. 'Don't leave! And I was reassigned a new agent who next day got Discover paid'Immediately I emailed and spoke w/ lawyer #2 'Don't file my papers! Wait. I may have a chance. Keep you updated' 'okay, I won't do anything'3 wks later - most of my debt is paid. I called atty #2; ''Thanks I won't be filing bankruptcy - please return my $1500. retainer' ''I'm taking out $750. for filing, credit report and printing forms. I did 2 hrs work'' 'I told you NOT TO FILE. I have a dated email. Credit reports are free. Max is 15 min time in your office. I don't even have a copy of the 'forms' You're over-billing.''I got the check and he signed it --with his letterhead -- with my name -- without a written amount. I met with him for 15 min - signed a few places, left with nothing. It looked like $120. worth of work (@ $300hr), and that's what I'm deducting from the $1500. I want to make it out for $1380. and cash it.Is that legal?
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry, I have literally never heard of anything you have described. Lawyers don't give their clients blank checks. You could just easily write out a check for $1 million and cash it. It just doesn't sound credible. I would encourage you to reach out to your attorney and clarify so that you don't get yourself into trouble with him alleging that you forged his name.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't think you clearly understood. I have a check with the attorney letterhead, Chase logo, date, my name, the attorney's name, his signature. The only thing missing is the amount...left blank. Ergo, a 'blank' check. I never said 'unsigned'; that would be a silly question. The amount has been left blank.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.
My apologies... I wasn't clear - that's what I meant by blank check: a check that is signed with no amount written in. My job is to make sure you have all the information so you can make the right decision for yourself. If I tell you what you want to hear and you get in trouble that would be bad - for you. But also, I'd feel terrible. So as I said, I would reach out to the attorney and inquire why there is no amount listed in the check and determine how he wants you to proceed. But without clear - written - instructions that you can write in any amount you wish, you could end up with criminal charges if he decides to press charges once you deposit that check. I hope that helps.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you could end up with criminal charges'' What would those charges be? I am not forging any signature. I am not stealing a check. What would be fraudulent on my part?He claims he is charging for something which I specifically (email, phone) told him NOT TO DO. If he's charging for something HE DID WITHOUT MY OK, he would be the fraudulent one. I intended to report him to the bar.I just want my retainer, minus the clerical fees which he's entitled to; $120; 15 minutes of time. He legitimately earned that.I objected to his over-billing. It is unjustified because again I made it clear WAIT. DON'T DO ANYTHING UNTIL I SAY OKAY.He mailed a signed check to me. I gave him a 'retainer' of $1500. There was no itemized billing in the envelope. The bottom of the check says 'refund'. IF IT SAID $750 REFUND....I could see your point.Are you saying he would sue me? Have me arrested? Please explain. Would he choose to go to small claims court for $630? Because if so, I have written time/stamped proof that 1. I was specific about NOT FILING. 2. I was specific about how I disagreed with his claims, again time/stamped email.Thank you for your professional advice.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.
What you need to do is you need to call his office and say that he emailed you a blank check and you will need him to send you a check with the amounts filled out. Unless you have specific permission to write in an amount I would not recommend you do it. Could he sue you? Yes. Could he have you arrested? Yes. He *could* argue that he authorized a $300 refund and you have no evidence to the contrary. Do you really need that kind of legal headache? If you want to report him to the bar, at least wait to see if he *does* refund your money because at this point it sounds like he did extra work - but work that you might NOT be billed for. Does that make sense? I'm here if you need anything.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Could he sue you? Yes. Could he have you arrested? Yes
. Does that make sense? no. Because you're a lawyer I assume you can clearly point to how the law would find me wrong. Anyone can 'sue' anyone. But what would legally win in court? What does the law say about it? THAT IS STILL UNANSWERED.Sorry, I know you're trying your best. But I'm not asking 'what he could/would do' I'm asking what the LAW has to say.Sorry this is unclear about the exact law - or even close to it.
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.
According to the law, it is not a crime to fill in an amount on a check someone gave you *as long as you have their permission.* The challenge is establishing you have their permission. If it cannot be established that you have their permission – it constitutes theft. Since most people do not routinely go leaving blank checks around – no amount plus a signature – it is not easy to establish that consent was had. It's strains credulity for the average person to believe that someone would just hand over a blank check to a client. If someone files a complaint with the police department, the police department investigates and would turn that evidence over to the DA/State/prosecutor to determine whether to press charges. I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or you need me to clarify anything. If you are satisfied with the assistance you have received I would appreciate if you would submit a rating because otherwise I do not receive any credit for working with you. If you are unsatisfied, I would be happy to clarify anything you need clarified. I think it's important to tell you the long because that protects you. Otherwise, if I just tell you what you want to hear that doesn't help you at all.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
According to the law, it is not a crime to fill in an amount on a check someone gave you *as long as you have their permission.* Ok, it did take 3 days to get the simple answer, 'Is it legal?" ty
Expert:  Olivia Kent replied 1 year ago.

I encourage you to consider the rest of that answer as well - it is by no means I simple yes/no answer. It is a "yes, with significant caveats" which is what I have made an effort to explain, because I take my job seriously and I think I would do you a significant disservice by simply telling you what you want to hear. Best of luck to you.

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