Pay up or face the consequences. That word of warning is coming from District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell who serves Lauderdale, Clarke, Kemper and Wayne counties. His office is preparing for a bad check roundup.
In March, all felony bad check cases in Lauderdale County will be turned over to a grand jury, and for some this could mean going to jail.
"We have people go to jail for this all the time," says Mitchell.
In all, there are 13 file cabinets filled with names of individuals from Lauderdale, Kemper, Wayne and Clarke Counties. If the bad checks are not paid for in full, these individuals could face court fees of $245 or more.
"If they pay it off, then we consider the case to be closed," says Mitchell. "If they've been indicted already and they pay it off, they do have court costs at that time."
Already Mitchell says attempts have been made to contact the defendants.
"The merchants send notices, and then we send notices. We all have to send notices to the address that's on the top left hand corner of the check and if people have moved or if people are avoiding opening their mail because it's from the district attorneys office, then those are going to be the people who end up getting arrested."
Mitchell says the felony bad check cases in Lauderdale County will be presented to a grand jury in March. The cases that are misdemeanors will be turned over to either Lauderdale County Justice Court or Meridian City Court. Mitchell stresses that defendants can pay the fees owed now without consequence. Meanwhile, people who think they - or a loved one - may owe money for a bad check, are asked to contact the Bad Check Unit with the district attorney's office. If they don't, Mitchell says they risk the chance of getting arrested.
'This can happen while you're at work, at your home or watching a ballgame. You can be arrested anywhere.'
The phone numbers for the Bad Check Unit are: (601) 484-3990 or (601) 484-3960. The office is located on the third floor of the Lauderdale County Courthouse in downtown Meridian.