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Bad Check Program

Who can use this service?

Any person who receives a bad check is eligible to participate in the Bad Check Program if the following conditions are met:

  • Check was passed in the County of San Luis Obispo or received by mail in this County.
  • Check must come back to the recipient stamped non-sufficient funds or account closed.

What is the process?

Step 1: How to Use the Program

Any person who receives a bad check is eligible to participate in the Bad Check Program if the following conditions are met.

  • Check was passed in San Luis Obispo County or received by mail in this county.
  • Check must come back to the recipient stamped non-sufficient funds or account closed. 

A non-sufficient fund check must be submitted to the bank TWICE before referring it to the program.  Account closed checks need only be submitted to the bank once.

Victims must complete a Bad Check Complaint form. The form is available on our web site or by calling the Bad Check Program. Please provide as much information as possible about the check writer. If you’re a business, please identify the name of the employee who accepted the check in the witness section of the complaint. Please provide all documentation pertaining to the check you accepted. (Invoices, applications for service, receipts, video footage-anything that will help identify the check writer)

Our office will ONLY accept the original “Check 21” or “Substitute” check copy returned to you by your bank. We cannot accept photocopies. Call if you have questions about Check 21 guidelines.

Checks must be submitted in a timely manner. Preferably within 30 days of being returned

Please retain a copy of the check for your records. If you were charged fees from your bank for handling the check, please enclose a copy of your statement reflecting those fees. We will collect a maximum of $15 in bank fees.

Once the check is submitted to the District Attorney's Office, please do not accept payment from the check writer. The check writer must make payment directly to the District Attorney's Office.

Step 2: Ineligible Checks

  1. Checks passed outside of San Luis Obispo County
  2. Agreement to hold checks (This represents an agreement between the check writer and the merchant that the check will not be deposited until after a certain date).
  3. Post-dated checks or two party checks.
  4. Checks that come under these various areas are often referred to Small Claims Court and are considered civil matters.

Step 3: Police Referrals

  1. Forged checks
  2. Stolen checks
  3. Fraudulent or Fictitious checks
  4. Traveler’s checks
  5. Money orders

If you are unsure whether the check you possess is eligible for the program, please contact the Bad Check Program at 781-5896 for information.

Is there a charge for this service?

This service is provided free of charge.

When and where is this service offered?

2nd Floor of the courthouse Room 223. Hours 7:30am-4pm M-F.

This service is available throughout the year during regular business hours except during scheduled holidays.


Location, directions and hours of operation

Click on location name to show hours of operation, directions and phone information


Monday - Friday 8-5

1035 Palm Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

District Attorney Main Office: (805) 781-5800

Victim Witness Assistance Center: (805) 781-5821

Bad Check & Small Claims Advisory: (805) 781-5800

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the Bad Check Program collect our service charge?

No. However, we can collect fees you were charged by your bank (up to $15.00).

How much does it cost me (victim) to use the Program?

There is no fee to victims. The check writer is charged a $50.00 administration fee and a $75.00 diversion class fee.

How much will I get back?

100% of the check amount is returned to victims.

Is there a dollar limit for checks submitted?

Checks must be at least $1.00    

The check is stamped “unable to locate.” Can I refer it to you?

Yes. This is a check written on a closed account.

We received a check that is stamped “Stop Payment” but the check writer never told us why he stopped payment. Will you take the check?

Yes. When we receive a stop payment check we request bank records to determine whether there were funds in the account at the time the stop payment was placed. If there were insufficient funds, we treat the check as NSF. If there were funds in the account, the check would be returned to you and you may pursue a civil judgment through the small claims court.

What happens if the check writer has not paid and you are unable to prosecute?

The victim may pursue a civil judgment through the Small Claims Court.

Why are pre- or post- dated or held checks not accepted?

Holding a check for a period of time, or allowing someone to date it purposefully for another date other than the date it is passed, makes the check a civil agreement between parties.

Why aren’t check writers prosecuted right away?

The Bad Check Program is a diversion program. We must give the check writer an opportunity to pay for their bad check.