A stop payment request for a check can be placed at any time before the check has cleared the bank.  Even if the check has been deposited and presented before, as long payment has not been made on the check, the check writer has the right to place a stop payment on the check up to the time the check is finally paid.  If the check bounces or was returned for non-sufficient funds (NSF) once, the checking account holder can place a stop payment before the check is presented again. 

Stop payments are generally in effect for a period of six months after the request has been made.  The request can be made verbally and then followed up with a written request.  To avoid any problems or potential legal issues with the payee, when a stop payment is requested the customer should have a valid reason for issuing the stop payment other than not having enough funds in the bank to cover the check. 

There are many legitimate reasons to issue a stop payment on a check even if the check is has bounced for the first time with the bank it is drawn on.  The person who writes and signs the check should be aware that a stop payment for goods and services in which the payment amount is not replaced is considered a dishonored payment or a bad check.  A stop payment that has a legitimate dispute or means for stopping the payment is generally not subject to criminal prosecution however, the payee may resolve the matter in a civil suit if the payment or dispute over the payment is not resolved.

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