County Programs Can Help Victims Of Check Fraud

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Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores and her staff have joined with area law enforcement and local business people to establish the Gila County Attorney's Bad Check Program. County employee Byron Cotney is coordinating the program.

The program is available to any person or organization and free to all victims of bad checks passed in Gila County.

Issuing a bad check is a misdemeanor, and repeated offenses or high dollar offenses could result in felony prosecution. Offenders may avoid criminal prosecution if full restitution and statutory fees are paid in full, within a limited length of time. The county attorney's office, however, reserves the right to prosecute.

For advice on how to avoid accepting bad checks or how to submit checks to the program, contact Byron Cotney at the County Attorney's Office, 714 S. Beeline Highway, or call (928) 474-4426.

In addition to the Gila County Bad Check Program, Cotney is in charge of the Deferred Prosecution and Diversion Programs.

It has been the policy of the Gila County Attorney's Office to give first-time felony offenders an opportunity to avoid having that conviction on their permanent criminal history. Initially, this was done by instituting the Deferred Prosecution Program.

This program is offered to first-time offenders after they have been formally charged with a felony offense. Once the defendant is arraigned, the prosecuting attorney offers the program through the defense attorney. If the defendant accepts and successfully completes the program, the charge(s) are permanently dismissed and the defendant receives a documentation signed by a prosecutor and Superior Court Judge.

In 1998 the Gila County Attorney's Office began the Diversion Program. While similar to the Deferred Prosecution Program, this program is offered to first-time offenders before they are formally charged with the crime. If the offender completes this program, charges are never filed. Upon successful completion, the offender receives documentation signed by a prosecutor showing that the charge(s) have not and will not be filed.

Terms of both programs:

  • No further criminal arrests, citations or convictions during the program.
  • No association with people who have pending or past criminal charges.
  • Notification of address changes, and if leaving their home area for more than a day.
  • Urinalysis testing, if deemed necessary.
  • No dangerous weapon possession while on the program.
  • Search of person or property without a warrant, if deemed necessary.

Terms that apply in all cases include:

  • Reporting to the Diversion/ Deferred office once a month.
  • Seventy-five hours of community service for a nonprofit organization.
  • Full employment or student status or combination of both.
  • Taped admission to charges filed or that may be filed.
  • Full restitution to victims, if applicable.
  • Substance abuse screening and treatment, if applicable.
  • Pay a Program Fee.

Both programs have become financially self-supporting through the collection of program fees that all participants must pay while on the programs. In fact, collections have far surpassed the total program costs and some of those funds may be used to fund other programs within the County Attorney's Office.

Collectively, the Bad Check Program and the Diversion/ Deferred Prosecution Program gave back to Merchants and Victims $57,000 in 2005.

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