Worthless Checks

The District Attorney Worthless Check Division was created on September 1, 1985 and has collected more than $5 million in hot checks and fees. Each of the parish District Attorney’s offices handles all the worthless checks written or presented in that parish. We strive to make collection of dishonored checks as simple and seamless as possible for those receiving them, consistent with the requirements of the law. The service we provide is without cost to the holder of the check after we receive a completed package; moreover, in most cases we are able to collect a fee for the check holder in addition to the face value to at least partly reimburse the costs of handling a dishonored check.

Alert and knowledgeable citizens and business owners are the first defense against all crimes – particularly worthless checks. For example, verifying and recording the number of the driver’s license of any person cashing a check can prevent most instances of worthless checks, and will make the eventual collection of the check much easier should it be dishonored.

How the program works

The law mandates certain actions to collect a check dishonored by a financial institution. If you are a merchant in the Fifth Judicial District routinely accepting checks, you may get from one of our offices a pamphlet that lays out this process in detail and provides sample forms where appropriate.

The check must be presented to the bank for payment, even if you know it will not be honored, and stamped by the bank with the reason it cannot be paid. Examples are “Insufficient Funds” and “Account Closed.”

As federal law now allows the near-immediate destruction of checks after deposit, the facsimile provided by the bank is generally acceptable as a legal copy of the check.

Except for checks dishonored because of a closed account, the check holder must send written notification to the check writer telling him the check was dishonored and making a demand for payment. The notice must be sent by certified mail, with return receipt requested. Be sure to keep a copy of your letter to the check writer. For closed account checks, you may send the below items to the DA’s Office for collection immediately upon notification the check is dishonored.

If the check has not been paid after ten (10) days, bring or mail it to the district attorney office in your parish along with the following:

  1. A “Worthless Check Report” that, among other things, identifies the person accepting the check, as well as the maker. The identification of the person who accepted the check and can identify the maker of the check is critical.
  2. The original worthless check or a legal copy of it.
  3. The signed receipt from the certified letter or the correspondence (unopened) marked “refused,” “unclaimed,” or otherwise not accepted.
  4. A copy of your letter to the maker of the check.

Typically, we will write a demand letter to the check writer. In most cases, this letter causes the writer to pay the check and all associated fees. But if there’s no response, an arrest warrant for the writer is issued. When the writer is subsequently located and arrested by law enforcement, the case is transferred to a criminal charge (either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the check) commencing with arraignment and subsequent court appearances and, if necessary, a criminal trial. The writer may generally pay the value of the check and all associated fees at any point before trial. If the case goes to trial and the writer is convicted, the presiding judge will typically order full restitution and payment of fees, along with the potential of other fines and, possibly, jail time.

Our success rate in collecting worthless checks has been phenomenal, and we consider the pursuit of the writers of worthless checks a significant boost to the overall business climate in our district.

Office Locations

  • District Attorney John M. Lancaster
    PO Box 805 • Oak Grove, LA 71263
    318.428.3219 • da@fifthda.org
  • Franklin Parish District Attorney's Office
    6568 Main St, 2nd Flr • Winnsboro, LA 71295
    318.435.3386 • franklin@fifthda.org
    Located in Franklin Parish Courthouse,
    Second Floor
  • Richland Parish District Attorney's Office
    PO Box 417 • Rayville, LA 71269
    318.728.3166 • richland@fifthda.org
    Located in Richland Parish Courthouse,
    Second Floor
  • West Carroll Parish District Attorney's Office
    PO Box 1209 • Oak Grove, LA 71269
    318.428.3213 • westcarroll@fifthda.org
    Located in West Carroll Parish Courthouse,
    Second Floor

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