Thomas D., a pastor of a small church in Lauderdale Lakes, entered into an agreement for the purchase of land in Georgia to be used for troubled youth. Thomas provided the seller with three checks meant to be down-payments toward an option to purchase. Thomas’ financial bookkeeping left a lot to be desired, and when he wrote those checks, his account was unable to cover the amount.
Thomas and the seller went back and forth for over six months about the written checks. The seller claimed that Thomas knew that when he wrote checks, his account could not cover them, and wrote the checks deliberately to entice him into signing the purchase agreement. Thomas was charged with three separate misdemeanor counts of Uttering a Worthless Check, each offense carrying a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, $1,000.00 in fines, and 1 year of probation, plus court costs and fines. At trial, I was able to show that Thomas did not receive any benefit from the deal in that he never received any keys to the property. I also showed that when the seller deposited the last two checks, he did so already knowing that the 1st check was returned and that Thomas did not have sufficient funds in his account to cover either check.
Ultimately, the prosecutor failed to establish a critical element in the case when he forgot to submit the checks for the jury to review. The judge recognized this error and the case was dismissed. Some people refer to this as a “technicality”, and maybe it is. But the law is all about technicalities and attention to detail. Attorneys should always be attentive and knowledgeable of their surroundings. Attorneys should know what has to be proved to establish a criminal offense and if a prosecutor fails to substantiate one portion of an offense, a skilled defense attorney should pounce and hammer away at that omission. This is a quality that comes only from actual trial experience in front of juries. After fifty jury trials, I have honed my skills to the point where I am completely focused on everything that is said and to the elements of the offenses that must be proven by the prosecution.