DA’s office helps collect bad checks

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell wants to remind merchants and consumers that it is a criminal offense to knowingly write a bad check.

“While most of us are filled with holiday cheer, there are a few opportunists who hope to take advantage of the busyness of the season by knowingly passing bad checks to our local merchants. It is unfortunate that those few individuals take advantage of the kindness and goodwill of our local business owners, but they do,” Merrell said. “I simply want those merchants to know that we are here for them and we will work to recoup their losses and make sure that justice is served.”

The Worthless Check Unit of the Covington County District Attorney’s Office is authorized by statute to pursue and prosecute any individual who passes a bad check with no intention of honoring their commitment to pay.

WCU coordinator Jeremie Shaffer said, “We don’t want to put people in jail for bad checks, but we do it routinely because they refuse to honor their commitment to the merchant to pay for the goods they receive. We give them ample opportunity to make the check good. When they fail to do so, they leave us no choice but to arrest them.”

The District Attorney’s Office provides this service to the citizens of Covington County free of charge.

“As for the check writers, most people simply made a mistake, and they come in quickly and make the check good. When that happens, we close our file and move on,” Merrell said. “Others, though, refuse our phone calls and avoid contact with us and, eventually, that leads to their arrest for Negotiating a Worthless Instrument. Then, District Court Judge Julie Moody decides if they go to jail and what their sanctions should be.”

Shaffer encouraged area merchants to contact her at 222-2513 for information about what to do if they received a bad check during the holidays. The District Attorney’s Office is located on the second floor of the Covington County Courthouse in Andalusia. Shaffer may also be reached at jeremie.shaffer@covicoda.net.