Some people still have this misplaced confidence in the deterrent effect of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 22, also known as the Bouncing Checks Law (full text here). Here are some things a layman should know:
1. The issuer is not automatically liable simply because the check “bounced”. A check generally “bounces” when dishonored upon presentment (reasons include, account closed, drawn against insufficient funds or DAIF). However, it is indispensable that the issuer must be notified in WRITING about the fact of dishonor, and he has 5 days from receipt to pay the value of the check or make arrangements for the payment thereof. (Please see update on this matter at the Philippine e-Legal Forum).
2. Filing fees are generally not required for criminal cases. For B.P. 22 cases, however, the complainant is required to pay the filing fees (based on the value of the check/s and the damages claimed, just like in civil cases) upon filing of the case in court.
3. One major deterrent against bouncing checks is the threat of a warrant of arrest being issued once the criminal case is filed in court. This is no longer true. No warrant of arrest is issued unless the accused fails to appear when required by the court.
4. Even if a criminal case under B.P. 22 is filed, the court can’t issue a hold-departure order (HDO). All violations of the Bouncing Checks Law, regardless of the amount involved, are filed only with the municipal/metropolitan trial courts. These courts cannot issue an HDO.
5. Courts have the discretion of imposing: (a) imprisonment only; (b) fine only; OR (c) both. It is entirely possible that only a fine, without imprisonment, is imposed.
(See also: Basic Reminders in Preventing Check Fraud)