Forgery is a white-collar crime that can result in serious criminal offenses, including incarceration and significant fines. It may be charged as a misdemeanor but is often a felony offense. This can lead to a tarnished reputation and a permanent criminal record.

A Folsom forgery lawyer from Walsh Law can help you navigate forgery charges in California and protect your rights against the prosecution’s accusations. Call us today at 916-237-8270 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation.

What Is Forgery Under California Law?

Under California Penal Code Section 470 PC, forgery is defined as falsifying a signature or seal or counterfeiting documents when doing so with fraudulent intent. Specifically, it is illegal to:

  • Sign the name of another person without their permission
  • Sign the name of a fictitious person
  • Counterfeit or forge the seal or handwriting of another person
  • Alter or falsify a legal will or judgment
  • Falsely make or counterfeit checks, bonds, money orders, and other similar documents

Elements of the Charge and Examples

You might wonder how the prosecution will prove forgery. They must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Intent to defraud includes the purpose of deceiving another or lying to them and doing so to deprive them of money, property, or a legal right. Without intent, there is no forgery in California.

For example, if you sign a doctor’s name on a prescription pad, thereby writing a false prescription, you may be guilty under California forgery laws.

Another example may include inserting your name into a person’s will in order to get money from their estate when they pass away.

Possible Related Charges

There are multiple California charges that are similar to forgery, including, but not limited to:

  • Credit Card Fraud: Under California Penal Code Section 484(f) PC, it is illegal to forge someone’s credit card information. This crime also requires intent to defraud.
  • Check Fraud: Under California Penal Code Section 476 PC, it is illegal to make, write, or pass a fake check, and do so with the intent to defraud. This crime is often combined with a California forgery case.
  • Making or Selling Counterfeit Goods: Under California Penal Code Section 350 PC, it is illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess for sale, any counterfeit trademarks. This includes “knock-off” versions of branded products

Penalties for a Forgery Conviction in Folsom

Forgery is a “wobbler” offense in California. That means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case. The prosecutor decides how to charge forgery.

Misdemeanor Forgery Penalties

As a misdemeanor, you may face up to one year in county jail, summary probation, and a maximum fine of up to $1,000.

In most cases, forgery will only be charged as a misdemeanor if the crime involves a forged document such as a check, money order, or similar instrument, and it is worth $950 or less. Otherwise, it will likely be charged as a felony.

Is Forgery a Felony?

Forgery may be charged as a felony if there are aggravating circumstances, such as you’ve been convicted of a similar white-collar crime in the past.

Penalties for felony forgery charges include formal probation, imprisonment for up to three years, and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

It’s important to work closely with a forgery lawyer to avoid the harshest consequences of this crime. Your attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecution and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Possible Defenses to a Forgery Charge in Folsom

An effective forgery lawyer in Folsom can help you develop a strong defense against your charges. Some of the most common strategies we use include the following arguments:

Lack of Intent

There may not have been criminal intent. Perhaps you believed you had permission to sign the document or alter it. If you did not have the requisite intent, the prosecution cannot pin this crime on you.

Mistaken Identity

Someone else might have committed the forgery, and you are being wrongly accused. For example, if a store has a video of you allegedly forging a check, the video may not clearly show your face and your identity may be mistaken.

Violations of Your Civil Rights

If the police and investigators violated your civil rights when obtaining key evidence – for example through an illegal search and seizure – then you may be able to have that evidence thrown out. Without evidence, the prosecution may have to dismiss the case altogether.

Chain of Custody Errors

The police are required to keep detailed logs of who possesses evidence at all times. One mistake and that evidence may lose its validity in court. Without key evidence, the prosecution may have to dismiss the case.

Insufficient Evidence

Your forgery defense lawyer can file pre-trial motions stating that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to sustain the charges against you. The court may dismiss the case without enough evidence to support the elements of the crime.

Contact a Trusted Lawyer for Forgery Charges in Folsom Today

Walsh Law has had success with forgery defenses in courts throughout California. We carefully evaluate the evidence against you and attack the information with tactful defense strategies. Our Folsom forgery lawyer will help you understand the case against you and how California forgery laws can protect you.

Call us today at 916-237-8270 or use our online contact form to reach out for a consultation.

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