Check Fraud in Colorado
C.R.S. 18-5-205

In Colorado, issuing a check with the intention of defrauding someone for the payment of goods or services is check fraud. Check fraud in Colorado can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount of fraud involved. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

In Colorado, issuing a check with the intention of defrauding someone for the payment of goods or services is check fraud.

1. What is check fraud in Colorado?

Intending to defraud someone by using a check to pay for something without sufficient funds is check fraud. “Any person, knowing he has insufficient funds with the drawee, who, with intent to defraud, issues a check for the payment of services, wages, salary, commissions, labor, rent, money, property, or other things of value, commits fraud by check.”1

“Insufficient funds” means the drawer does not have enough money on account with the bank to cover the check. A check dishonored for “no account” is also considered to be dishonored for insufficient funds.2

2. What are the penalties for check fraud in Colorado?

The penalties for check fraud depend on the value of fraud involved and type of fraud. Under C.R.S. 18-5-205, the class of criminal offense for some check fraud is determined in part by the value of theft involved.

Value of Check Fraud

Class of Criminal Offense


Less than $50

Class 1 Petty Offense

Up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500

$50 or more but less than $300

Class 3 Misdemeanor

Up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $750

$300 or more but less than $750

Class 2 Misdemeanor

3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000

$750 or more but less than $2,000

Class 1 Misdemeanor

6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000

$2,000 or more.

Class 6 Felony

12 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $100,000

If an individual is involved in two or more incidents of check fraud within a 60-day period, the value of the fraud will be combined and charged as a single offense.3

Check fraud where the defendant had no bank account, or the account was closed for 30-days or more is also a class 6 felony, with penalties including 12 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $100,000.4

Opening up a checking account using false identification or an assumed name in order to commit check fraud is a class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties include 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.5

In addition to criminal penalties, if deferred prosecution is available, the court may require the defendant to pay restitution on all unpaid checks as a condition for treatment or rehabilitation.6

3. What are some defenses to check fraud charges in Colorado?

In order for the prosecutor to prove you are guilty of check fraud, they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit fraud. This requires establishing a culpable state of mind.

Except in the case of a postdated check, the defendant's knowledge that they have insufficient fund may be presumed if:

  • They do not have an account with the bank or other drawee at the time the bad check is issued; or
  • They have insufficient funds upon deposit with the bank or other drawee to pay the check 30 days after the bad check is issued.7

4. Related Offenses

Check fraud may involve other related offenses. Passing a bad check even without the intent to defraud someone is also a criminal offense. Identity theft charges may also be involved when another person's information was used to pass off a fraudulent check. It may also involve general theft or larceny charges.

4.1 Identity Theft C.R.S. 18-5-902

In Colorado, it is a criminal offense to use another person's personal or financial identifying information to obtain anything of value. This includes using another person's identity in a check transaction to commit check fraud. Identity theft is a class 4 felony in Colorado. Penalties for identity theft include 2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

4.2 Bad Checks C.R.S. 18-5-512

Under Colorado law, it is a crime to pay with a check knowing that you do not have enough money to cover the funds. Issuing a bad check is a class 3 misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to six months in jail and $750 in fines. In addition, the defendant may have to pay restitution for the amount of the bad check.

4.3 Theft/Larceny C.R.S. 18-4-401

Theft, or larceny, involves using someone else's property in a manner that deprives the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the property. Writing bad checks to obtain things of value may be considered a type of theft. The punishment for theft is based on the value of the property stolen. Charges range from petty offenses (items less than $50) to a class 2 felony (items valued at greater than one million dollars).

Call us for help...

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If you have been accused of check fraud, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal fraud offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-5-205(2)
  2. C.R.S. 18-5-205(1)(d)
  3. C.R.S. 18-5-205(3)
  4. C.R.S. 18-5-205(3)(e)
  5. C.R.S. 18-5-205(5)
  6. C.R.S. 18-5-205(6)
  7. C.R.S. 18-5-205(8)

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