Specialized Crime Division

Specialized Crime Division

Frank Crowley Courts Building - 133 N. Riverfront Boulevard, LB 19, Dallas, TX 75207
Telephone: (214) 653-3600 • Fax: (214) 653-5774

The Specialized Crime Division investigates and prosecutes financial crimes.  The division consists of the Fraud Unit, Elder Abuse Unit and the Check Unit.

Fraud Unit

The Fraud Unit currently has eight attorneys, fine investigators and one financial analyst.  Crimes of fraud involve many different schemes and types of victims.  Examples of fraud cases prosecuted by the unit include employee theft, forgery, securities fraud, swindles and scams, organized retail theft, tampering with governmental records and credit card abuse.  The unit also specializes in handling mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, environmental crimes, trademark and copyright violations and benefits fraud at Parkland Hospital.

Elder Abuse Unit

The Elder Abuse Unit (EAU) consists of three Assistant District Attorneys, an investigator who is a certified peace officer, a victim advocate, and a financial analyst shared with the Dallas County District Attorney Fraud Unit. The focus of the EAU is ensuring that justice is served for elderly victims of crime, generally aged 65 years and older, as well as persons with disabilities. The EAU handles complex financial fraud-related crimes, physical abuse crimes, and violent crimes. Cases of physical abuse include neglect by caretakers and nursing homes, while violent crimes range from simple assault to capital murder. Financial crimes include abuse of a fiduciary relationship such as a power of attorney, theft from a victim with diminished capacity, scams and swindles, and exploitation of the elderly. The EAU has been a leader in the prosecution of abuse of elder and disabled persons and has provided training and education to thousands of law enforcement personnel, professionals, and citizens on the topic of elder abuse.

Check Unit

The Check Unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the offenses of theft by check, forgery of financial documents, theft and welfare fraud.  The Unit currently has two felony attorneys and two attorneys who handle Class C misdemeanors in the Justice of the Peace Courts.

Filing a Theft by Check or Issuance of Bad Check Complaint

The Check Unit is able to take reports of criminal conduct directly from the victim of a crime.  The cases that can ordinarily be handled by the Check Division without the necessity of a police report are those in which an individual presents a check in exchange for goods or services and the check is not honored by the financial institution because of insufficient funds, closed account, or a stop payment order.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is it a theft check case or issuance of a bad check case?
A: Under Texas law, a person commits a theft of property or services if that person unlawfully appropriates property or secures performance of a service from the owner by deception. Inducing an owner to give up property by giving the owner a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception if the owner provided the goods in good faith reliance that the check would be honored by the bank on which it was drawn. The key under the law is that the owner must give the merchandise at the time the check writer gives the check. Furthermore, inducing a provider of services to provide services by giving the provider a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception if the service provider provided those services in good faith reliance that the check would be honored by the bank on which it was drawn. Again, the key under the law is that the owner must provide the services at the time the check writer gives the check.

Please note that the following types of checks do not qualify under this criterion:

  1. Held Checks
  2. Post-Dated Checks
  3. Third-Party Checks
  4. Payroll Checks
  5. Checks for Debts Owed
  6. Loans

In the case of a check like the ones listed above, the check writer may have committed the crime of Issuance of a Bad Check. If our office reviews the complaint and determines that this is the case, we will file the Class C Misdemeanor with the Justice of the Peace in the precinct where the check was passed.

Special Notes:

Payroll Checks: You may not ordinarily file a complaint with us if you received a check as a payroll disbursement and it was dishonored by the bank. You should contact the Texas Workforce Commission at twc.state.tx.us to determine what recourse is available to you. You may also be able to file a complaint for Issuance of a Bad Check with the Justice of the Peace.

Stop Payment Checks: When a customer directs a bank to stop payment on a particular check, the bank is required to refrain from paying the check. If you receive a check for merchandise and the bank returns the check because of a stop payment order, you may be able to file a complaint against the check writer for theft.

Under Texas law, a check written for merchandise and later not paid because of a stop payment order requires that a special stop payment demand letter be sent. The law gives the check writer 10 days to either return the merchandise or pay the check. Your acceptance of the returned merchandise is not optional. If you get the merchandise back, you may seek compensation for any degradation in the value of the merchandise through the civil courts.

Checks given to pay Debts: In most cases checks given to pay pre-existing debts do not meet the requirements for a theft charge. We do not have debtor prisons and your only recourse is to sue in civil court for the debt. We cannot attempt to put someone in jail for their failure to pay their debts even if they attempt to do so with a bad check. There are times when a Class C Misdemeanor charge of Issuance of a Bad Check can be filed, even on a check written to pay a debt, but the law does not allow for the filing of a Theft by Check case.

Post-Dated Checks, Held Checks, and Drafts: If you willingly accept a check in exchange for merchandise or service and agree to hold it until a later date you have extended credit to the check writer. These checks or drafts do not qualify as Theft of Check cases because you are relying on a promise to pay at a later date. Your recourse is to sue in civil court.

Third Party Checks: In most cases in which you gave merchandise or services in exchange for a check made payable to someone other than yourself or your company, you will not be able to file a complaint with the Check Division. These kinds of checks often prove impossible for us to establish which of the parties had the necessary intent to commit theft.

How Do I File?

To file a theft by check or Issuance of Bad Check complaint, you must:

  1. Send the statutory notice to the check writer if the check was dishonored by the bank as NSF. If the check was returned Account Closed, the law does not require sending the statutory notice
  2. Fill out the appropriate sworn and notarized complaint form and related documents, and
  3. Submit the complaint form, along with documentary evidence in the form of copies of the notice you sent, postal documents showing the notice was sent, and any invoices, receipts or register tapes showing what was stolen.

Use the below forms to help you file a theft by check case:

Form NameFile Format
Affidavitacrobat icon
Afianteacrobat icon
Check Complaint Formacrobat
Denuncia por estafa con checques o por estensión de cheques incobrablesacrobat
Check Division Guidelinesacrobat
Pautas para presentar causas por cheques con fondos insuficientes y órdenes de pago a la vistaacrobat
Checklist to File a Complaint with the DA's Officeacrobat
Documentación necesario para presentar un cheque en la Oficina del Fiscal de Distritoacrobat
Sample Letter for Merchant on NSF Checkacrobat
Modelo de carta por cheque con fondos insuficientes (NSF, por sus siglas en inglés)acrobat
Sample Letter for Merchant on Stop Payment Checkacrobat
Modelo de carta para el comerciante sobre la suspensión del pago de un chequeacrobat


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