Worthless Check Application Procedures

This process applies to all checks marked as follows:

  1. “Insufficient Funds”
  2. “Account Closed”
  3. “Stop Payment”

*  Worthless checks are handled in the county where they are accepted. *

At no time during this process should the merchant/victim accept partial payment. If partial payment is accepted, the matter becomes a debt (a civil matter) and is not criminally prosecutable.

To qualify for the Worthless Check Policy:

  • The check must be received as payment at the time the service or product was rendered.
  • The signer of the check must be the owner/authorized signer on the account and must sign the check in the presence of merchant/victim at the time the check is being passed.
  • Business or company checks must be signed by the owner.


  1. Merchant/victim must send a certified letter notifying writer of check (herein called “maker”) that the check has been returned giving maker ten (10) calendar days to pay check in full. At this time this victim may ask for any returned fees they may have incurred through the bank or as a policy of their business.
  2. If merchant/victim receives receipt from postal service prior to the ten (10) calendar day, stating that certified mail was refused and/or maker of check was not at given address, then the merchant/victim may proceed with the Worthless Check Application Form at the General Sessions Court Clerk without waiting the ten (10) days.
  3. Submitting a worthless Check Application Form –
    1. Applications are available at the General Sessions Clerk’s Office, Criminal Division, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, located in the City-County Building, Level M / Phone Number: 865-215-2375.
    2. Each check, regardless if maker is the same, is handled separately.
    3. Merchant/victim must have the following when submitting an application to the Clerk:
      1. Receipt of certified letter
      2. Copy of check (front and back)
      3. $10.00 application fee
  4. The above application is processed and forwarded to the District Attorney General’s Office (865-215-2515). A demand letter is then sent to the writer of the check stating they are to pay an amount, which includes the amount of the check, $10.00 handling fee, and the $10.00 application fee. The total amount is to be paid within fifteen (15) days of the date of the letter directly to the victim.
  5. If payment is received there is no need to contact the District Attorney General’s Office. If the check is not paid in full within twenty (20) calendar days after submitting the Worthless Check Application to the clerk, the victim may proceed with the issuance of a criminal warrant. (NOTE – Although the criminal statute states the maker of the check has fifteen (15) days to make the check good, the District Attorney General’s Office requires the victim wait twenty (20) days because of the data entry, processing and mailing time.)
  6. Issuance of a criminal summons – (Once the criminal summons is issued, the merchant cannot accept direct payment from the defendant)
    1. There is no charge for the issuance of a criminal summons.
    2. If you have not received payment within fifteen (15) days, you may take the following steps to commence a criminal prosecution.If the amount of the check is one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or less, you may contact Kimberly Beckner to schedule an appointment with the Magistrate, so you may then appear to discuss the issuance of a warrant.  Mrs. Beckner will then send you an email confirming the date and time your appointment is scheduled.  You will need to bring with you a copy of the Worthless Check Application, a copy of the bad check (front and back), and proof that you sent a certified letter to the person who wrote the bad check.  
    3. If the check is over $1,000.00, it is a felony charge and must be investigated by the Knoxville Police Department (KPD) or the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) depending upon where the check was received. When the check is a felony amount, a law enforcement officer instead of a private citizen must sign the Warrant or Criminal Summons. 


  1. Payments made on an account, pre-existing debt or made to establish an account.
  2. Partial Payments
  3. Post-dated checks
  4. Checks wherein there was an agreement to hold the check
  5. Check was not accepted in Knox County
  6. Payments for rental property
  7. Two-Party checks
  8. Stolen, forged, and/or counterfeit checks – Report these to the appropriate law enforcement agency – Knoxville Police Department (865-215-7000) or Knox County Sheriff’s Office.(865-215-2432)