Forgery Charges

Forgery Defense LawyerSan Diego Forgery Defense Attorneys

In California, any person who knowingly alters, creates or uses a written document with the intent to commit fraud for personal or financial gain, is guilty of forgery.  California’s Forgery Law is found in California Penal Code Sections 470-483.5 and covers several distinct areas of forgery.

Forgery Charges

Forgery can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the value involved, defendant’s criminal record and circumstances of alleged forgery.  California forgery law can be summarized as Intent to Defraud and either:

  • Signs the Name of Another (real or imaginary) person without his/her authorization on any legal document,
  • Forging or Counterfeits the Handwriting (or seal) of Another person,
  • Falsifies or Alters a legal document (eg will, land deed, court records), or
  • Falsely Makes or Alters any of the following:
    • Any check, document, bond or order related to a sale, money, transfer or exchange of property,
    • Contract or obligatory for any property or money, power of attorney, certificate of ownership, trading stamp, disposal of one’s property after death,
    • Notary documents

Facts Prosecutor Must Prove

The prosecutor must prove the below facts in order to convict you under the California forgery law. If there is enough evidence to prove that the act was committed with an intention to defraud, it doesn’t matter even if the entity or the person you intended to defraud was defrauded or not. The elements to be proved depend upon the nature of the case. It may vary as follows:

Misrepresentation of Person

If the defendant committed forgery by using/signing a document with false signature, the prosecution must prove that the:

  • Gave a false name or signed someone else’s name to a document;
  • Defendant lacks to sign that name in the document;
  • Defendant knew that he/she lacked the authority to sign the document;
  • He/she had the intention to defraud when the document was signed.

Forged Signature

If the defendant committed the act by counterfeiting or forging the seal or handwriting of another person, the below facts has to be proved:

  • The defendant counterfeited or forged the seal or handwriting of another person; AND
  • He/she had the intention to defraud when the act was committed.

Document Alteration

If the forgery was committed by corrupting, falsifying, or altering a legal document or will, the prosecution must prove that the:

  • Defendant corrupted, altered or falsified a legal document;
  • Falsified document was a record of a codicil, will, conveyance or a document of legal nature that is accepted by the law; AND
  • He/she had the intention to defraud when the document was corrupted, altered or falsified.

Under the California Penal Code sections 470-483.5, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intention to defraud when the act of forgery was actually committed.

California Forgery Defenses

An expert criminal defense attorney can raise a number of effective defenses. If you are convicted of forgery in California, the primary focus is given to the financial value involved in the forgery charge. An experienced lawyer of the The Hullinger Firm has the ample expertise in handling California criminal charges.

Depending on the circumstances, the following defenses may apply:

Lack of intent – The intent to defraud is the crucial element to prove forgery in California and hence you are not guilty of forgery if the intention to defraud cannot be proved in the court.

That the forged document is invalid or lacks the ability to defraud – There is no scope for a forgery conviction if the forged or altered document lacks the ability to defraud another out of a monetary, property or legal right.

Sentencing and Penalties for California Forgery

The California prosecution has the discretion to prosecute forgery as either a misdemeanor or felony and hence the forgery crime under the California penal code section 470 is considered as a “wobbler”. The course of punishment is determined by the monetary value involved in the forgery case. If you have any theft-related convictions in the past, it will be also considered for deciding the punishment.

  • If the forgery is convicted as felony, you have to face imprisonment for 16 months, or two or three years in the state prison.
  • A felony forgery charge along with one or two previous “strikes” on your record will implicate a tough prison sentence under the “Three strike’s law”.
  • A misdemeanor forgery charge is punishable by an imprisonment of up to one year in the county jail.
  • Felony charges may result in fines of up to $10,000 and $1,000 for misdemeanor charges.
  • You may be also obligated to pay restitution to victims(s) (if any) and may have to take part in community service or labor.

Our Attorney Advantage

A Forgery Charge can have serious consequences.  Hiring the right attorney may be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal.  Take back the Upper Hand.  Our defense attorneys are the best in the business:

  • A Skilled and Experienced Defense Team – We are the right team to defend a criminal charge.  We have successfully handled thousands of criminal cases and have satisfied clients all over California.  We know the law, procedure and practicalities of criminal litigation that can give you the upper hand in court.
  • Well Known and Respected – We appear in the courts of San Diego every day of the week.  We are known by judges, prosecutors and our colleagues.  Our attorneys have a reputation for competent and effective representation in the area of criminal law.  We strive to achieve excellence on every case and have established a reputation for getting great results.
  • State of The Art Legal Practice – We are a 100% Paperless law firm.  All of our clients are given 24/7 access to everything in their case file.  Attorney notes, evidence, witness statements and motions are all scanned and stored digitally in an easy to navigate cloud based system.  Its encrypted to standards of the department of defense.  Rest assured that your file is safe, sound and available to you whenever you need it.

Learn More…

If you have been charged with Forgery, we offer a 100% free Consultation by calling 619-708-2073 or emailing us at  Talk to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today and take back the upper hand.

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Scott Hullinger, Esq.

Scott Hullinger, Esq.

Criminal and Civil Attorney