Cheque Case Essay

A check bounces either because there is not enough money or credit in a bank to cover its amount, as in DAIF (drawn against insufficient funds check), NSF (non-sufficient funds check) and closed account.

Batas Pambasa Blg. 22 punishes any person who, KNOWING at the time he issues a check in payment of obligation that he does not have sufficient funds or credit with the drawee bank. The gravamen of this special penal law is the issuance of check, not the non-payment of the obligation. (Lozano vs. Martinez, 146 SCRA 323). Checks form part of the banking system for being substitutes for money. Hence, BP Blg. 22 is neither violative of the constitutional provision against imprisonment of non-payment of debt nor the non-impairment clause.

In the case of Que vs. People, the Supreme Court settled that B.P.22 applies even in cases where the dishonored checks were issued merely in the form of a DEPOSIT or a GUARANTY and not as actual payment. The law does not make any distinction. Criminal liability attaches to the drawer of the check whether it was issued in payment of an obligation or merely to guarantee the said obligation. PRESCRIPTION, which is the termination of the right to prosecute is a defense in B.P. 22. The lapse of four (4) years AFTER the expiration of the five (5) banking days from notice of dishonor is the prescriptive period for filing bounced check case.

Whereas, if a person, at the time the check was issued, had the intention of stopping payment of check, shall be guilty of estafa under the Revised Penal Code. In estafa, the issuance of a post-dated or check without funds is intended to defraud and to cause damage to the payee.

Deceit is an element of estafa while the same is not required in BP Blg. 22. A person therefore, who issues a check in payment of an obligation can be held liable at the same time for violation of B.P. 22 and estafa under Article 315, par. 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code. Foreign checks, provided either they are drawn and issued in the Philippines, though payable outside, are within the coverage of the law. (De Villa vs. CA, 195 SCRA 722).

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The signatory/ies are the ones liable under the law whether the bounced check is issued by natural or juridical person because the corporation cannot be subject to arrest and criminal liability.

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