Under California Penal Code 470, forgery is when you knowingly, willingly alter or create a document with the intent to commit fraud. Forgery refers to several illegal acts; however, when most of us think of it, we picture someone signing a document without securing the rightful owner’s consent or approval. Forgery is much broader than that, it can also allude to creating a fake document or altering a valid document to obtain some sort of personal gain.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense, forgery can be either a felony or misdemeanor that can be punished with monetary fines, probation, or jail time. If you are convicted of forgery, you may face anywhere from 16 months to 3 years in state prison. In addition to incarceration, you may also be required to pay a $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor or up to $10,000 for a felony. The defendant may also be required to pay financial restitution to the victim(s) of the forgery and may also need to participate in mandated community service.
You cannot be charged with forgery unless you have “uttered” or passed the counterfeit item to another. While it is still a crime to steal another person’s check and place their forged signature on it, forgery is not completed until the check is handed to someone else or deposited into an account. Before that, it is considered attempted forgery. Therefore, a prosecutor can only secure a conviction if it can be proven that you took or altered an item with specific intent to defraud.
Okabe & Haushalter is dedicated to defending our clients. We can analyze your situation to determine if there are any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. We can use these weaknesses to negotiate for reduced charges or sentencing. In some cases, we may be able to have your charges dropped altogether. Our goal is to provide our clients with high-quality and trustworthy legal representation. We do everything we can to minimize the penalties our clients are facing—either through a strong defense in court or negotiations with prosecutors and judges beforehand. Our criminal defense lawyers can make sure that you feel confident going into court, knowing that you have a qualified attorney representing you. Call now for the help you need!