Los Angeles Forgery Defense Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorneys Defending Individuals Against Charges of Fraudulent or Forged Documents
Forgery is basically defined as creating or altering a written document with the intent to commit fraud. California Penal Code Section 470 prohibits a wide range of conduct related to the altering or falsification of documents and other items. Forgery can be thought of as a type of fraud or white collar crime, as the perpetrator’s intent is to deceive a reader as to the true nature of an item. Essentially, its creating a counterfeit with the intent of injury or damage of some type to another party. Forgery is committed without consent or knowledge of the party being defrauded.
This conduct could include what most people would think of when they hear “forgery,” i.e. signing someone else’s name to a piece of paper to make it appear that they signed it themselves. It could also involve more complex conduct such as counterfeiting an official seal or editing a signed document after the fact to change its contents with intent to defraud. Forgery can occur in many forms. If you are under criminal investigation or already charged with forgery, call a Los Angeles forgery attorney at our law firm to thoroughly review all the details and evidence in order to start building a defense strategy.
California Penal Code Section 470
California Penal Code 470 provides that every person who does any of the following, with the intent to defraud, is guilty of the crime of forgery:
- Signs the name of another person or of a fictitious person on certain documents or items
- Counterfeits or forges the seal or handwriting of another individual
- Alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record of any will, conveyance, or other instrument, the record of which is by law evidence, or any record of any judgment of a court or the return of any officer to any process of any court
- Falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, utters, publishes, passes or attempts or offers to pass, as true and genuine on certain documents or items
The “certain documents or items” referred to include checks, traveler's checks, money orders, promissory notes, lottery tickets, stock certificates, real estate leases, property deeds and mortgage documents, contracts, among many others. As you can see, the items covered by the forgery statute are many and varied. The chances are that if the document at issue has any legal or financial significance, then altering it or affixing a false signature to it will constitute forgery. See related: Bad Checks and Possession of Fake Identification. Contact a Los Angeles forgery lawyer at our office for more detailed information.
Legal Penalties for a Forgery Conviction
Forgery under Penal Code 470 is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony case depending on the seriousness of the conduct and the defendant’s prior criminal history. If the forgery involves a bad check, or similar circumstance, and the loss amount is less than $950, the case will almost certainly be charged as a misdemeanor crime. A misdemeanor conviction for forgery is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine, probation, and/or restitution to the victim. If the forgery is serious enough to qualify as a felony crime, it is punishable by 16 months to 3 years in a California state prison, a $10,000 fine, probation, and/or restitution to the victim.
Legal Defenses against Forgery Charges
Forgery requires the intent to defraud. As used in the forgery context, the intent to defraud is the intent to deceive the recipient of a document so as to deprive them of money or some other valuable thing. The defendant must make a knowingly false statement or representation with the intent that the recipient rely on the same to their detriment. If, for example, you honestly thought you had the authority to sign someone else’s name, or to make an alteration to a document, your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney could successfully argue that you lacked the intent to defraud. Without the intent to defraud, you cannot be convicted of forgery.
Call a Los Angeles Forgery Defense Attorney
Forgery cases are frequently complex and fact-specific. Felony and misdemeanor forgery charges can be life changing, and only a skilled criminal defense lawyer can properly defend you from such charges. If you or a family member is being investigated or charged with forgery under Penal Code 470, call our experienced criminal defense attorneys today. We have a history of success defending clients against any type of forgery charges. In one case in Ventura Superior Court, our client had an active bench warrant for forgery. After a thorough review and negotiation with the prosecutor, we were able to have the case dismissed due to a successful Statute of Limitations argument.
At Eisner Gorin LLP, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm possesses the knowledge, skill and experience to build a unique defense to protect your freedom and future. Retaining our top-ranked law firm can be your best chance at avoiding a conviction. We offer a free case evaluation to assess your potential criminal liability, any viable legal defenses you may have, and the best approach to obtaining a positive outcome in your case.
If you have been charged with forgery or any other type of fraud crime, call us today at 877-781-1570 to learn how we will fight your charges.
Related Pages: Credit Card Fraud | Theft Crimes | Identity Theft | Check Fraud