Forgery: Understanding the Elements of the Crime

A single stroke of a pen, the artful manipulation of a document, or even a seemingly innocuous signature can cast a shadow over an individual’s life, changing its course forever. Forgery, as defined in California Penal Code Section 470, is a crime that revolves around deception, fraud, and the manipulation of documents. Those accused of this crime often have an uphill legal battle ahead of them.

To safeguard your rights or those of a loved one facing forgery allegations, it is crucial to have an experienced legal advocate by your side. As a dedicated criminal defense law firm, the Aron Law Firm understands the complexities of forgery charges in California. We know what it takes to build a strong defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of your forgery case.

What Is Considered Forgery in California?

Forgery, under California law, is the act of intentionally altering, creating, or using a false document or writing with the intent to defraud, deceive, or injure another person. This crime is a serious offense in California, and those accused of it can face severe legal consequences.

Crimes of forgery and counterfeiting can involve any of the following items:

  • Checks
  • Bonds
  • Bank bills
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Money orders
  • Receipts for money or goods
  • Contracts
  • Lottery tickets
  • Certificates of ownership
  • Stocks
  • Goods

The above list is not exhaustive. Knowingly passing (or attempting to pass) any altered or counterfeit document or item off as true or genuine in California could land in serious hot water.

Elements of Forgery in California

To secure a conviction for forgery, the prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include:

  • Intent: The defendant must have acted with the specific intent to defraud, deceive, or injure someone. Proving intent can be a complex matter, and it often forms the foundation of a defense strategy.
  • False document or writing: The accused must have altered, created, or used a false document or writing. This means that the document must contain false information or be entirely fabricated.
  • Knowledge of falsity: The defendant must have been aware of the falsity of the document or had reason to believe that it was false. Proving knowledge is another critical aspect of the prosecution’s case.
  • Use or presenting: The act of using or presenting the forged document to someone else, such as a bank or another individual, with the intent to deceive or defraud.
  • Injury or potential harm: The prosecution must demonstrate that the forgery had the potential to cause harm, loss, or injury to another person or entity.

If you are facing forgery charges in California, do not wait to secure legal counsel from an attorney experienced with these types of crimes.

Penalties for Forgery in California

The penalties for forgery in California can vary depending on factors such as the specific circumstances of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. Generally, forgery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor forgery convictions can come with up to one year in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. For felony forgery convictions, expect up to 3 years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Forgery charges in California can be compounded when they involve certain enhancements or if the defendant has prior forgery convictions.

Potential Defenses Against Forgery Charges

Your California criminal defense attorney has several strategies they may use to defend your forgery charges. Some potential defenses include:

  • Lack of intent: Demonstrating that you did not have the specific intent to defraud or deceive can be a powerful defense strategy.
  • Mistaken identity: If there is doubt about the true identity of the person who committed the forgery, it may be argued that you were wrongly accused.
  • Lack of knowledge: Proving that you did not know that the document was fabricated can be a successful defense strategy.
  • Insufficient evidence: Challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution is a fundamental aspect of building a strong defense.

Forgery is a complex crime in California, and defending against forgery charges requires a deep understanding of the legal elements involved.

Contact a California Criminal Defense Lawyer Experienced with Forgery Crimes

Are you or someone you know facing forgery charges in California? Do not navigate this complex legal terrain alone. Reach out to the trusted California criminal defense team at Aron Law Firm for proficient guidance and a robust defense.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards securing your future. Call (805) 618-1768 or contact us online.