County attorney discusses bad-check collections at commission meeting
County Attorney Todd Thompson reported on working jointly with the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce on bad checks and collections through Thompson’s office.
Thompson spoke during elected officials report time at Thursday’s Leavenworth County Commission meeting. Thompson noted that it’s a rarity for people to use checks anymore, as debit card use is replacing check-writing. Also, Walmart has started handling its own bad checks, which has reduced income of diversion fees.
Diversion fees allow a suspect/defendant the opportunity to be diverted from the criminal justice system and avoid receiving a conviction for writing a worthless check.
Under a diversion agreement, the defendant acknowledges committing the offense and thus waiving the right to a speedy trial.
The defendant also agrees to these conditions:
• Not to violate any laws in Kansas or any other state.
• Defendant is on diversion for a period of six months.
• Defendant will not maintain a checking account for the months while on diversion and cannot sign a check for six months.
• Defendant will pay all fees associated with diversion as well as restitution to the victim.
Failure to appear in court will result in the court issuing a bench warrant and failure to pay as indicated will result in revocation proceedings.
Thompson also told the commission that the diversion fee rate has increased. He noted it was more in tune with area counties. The new rates, which took effect Sept. 1, 2009, are $250 for misdemeanors and $350 for felonies. Previously, diversion fees were $150, regardless of whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony.
The screen fee has increased as well, from $25 to $40.
The diversion screen allows the diversion officer to become familliar with the particulars of the crime and to then evaluate, based on the alleged crime in question, how to best proceed with the diversion. The diversion screen fee is the charge for this evaluation process.
The county attorney's current policy is that the county attorney's office receives worthless check(s); criminal charge(s) are filed with district court; a notice to appear is sent to the defendant; and the defendant has a first appearance/diversion screen.
The defendant then has the options of paying in full and being on diversion for six months, paying within 30 days and being on diversion for six months or having a trial.
In other business, the commission:
• approved, 3-0, Commerce Bank as bank of record.
• approved, 3-0, work at the Leavenworth County Annex in Tonganoxie not to exceed $10,000. In Treasurer Janice Young’s update to the commission, she said the front door needed to be replaced and that the flooring needed to be replaced, as well as cubicles and counters. Young noted the improvements would not be funded through the general tax money. Instead it would be through motor vehicle funds.
After hearing all elected official reports, the commission decided quarterly reports would be sufficient from elected officials rather than monthly. Then, if more frequent meetings are needed, they can be called.
• discussed a request from Basehor Dairy Days to donate $750 from the recreation fund. Flower made a motion, but it died for lack of a second.