California Bad Checks





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Quick Summary

If anyone writes a bad check in California, they must also pay the payee a service charge up to $25, and up to $35 for each subsequent check. If the person receiving a bad check satisfies the strict requirements of California law when demanding payment, the person writing the bad check may be liable to pay treble damages - which is not less than $100 and not more than $1500.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Penalties for Writing a Bad Check?

For the first bad check written to a person, a "service charge" payable to that person must also be made. The amount of the charge cannot exceed $25.

For the second and each subsequent back check written to that person, the maximum service charge amount increases to $35.

There may also be criminal penalties for intentional and habitual bad check writers.

Can Attorneys Fees Be Paid for Pursuing a Bad Check Writer?

Not under Civil Code 1719.

However, if there is a contract amount for which the check was being written, and the contract permits recovery of attorney's fees if there is a breach, then attorney's fees may be recoverable for pursuing payment of the back check.

Can a Court Refuse to Award the Treble Damages?

If the statutory requirements to award damages are met, the court has no discretion. The court must award the treble damages. (Mughrabi v Suzuki (1998) 197 Cal.App.3d 1212.)

Is there a Sample Demand Letter I can Use?

Yes, for members.

More Information is Available with a Premium Subscription


  • What are the Treble Damages?


  • What Steps are Required to get the Treble Damages?


  • Sample Demand Letter


  • Legal Research - Text of California's bad check statute



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