Sacramento County Forgery Criminal Defense Attorneys
Overview of Forgery
According to California Penal Code Section 470, forgery occurs when the accused falsifies a document with a specific intent to defraud a victim for gain. Forgery is often referred to as a “white-collar crime.” A forgery crime can be as simple as altering or counterfeiting a document that benefits the accused and takes advantage of the victim. Older people are often the victims of forgery.
To be convicted of forgery, the prosecution must prove the forgery beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution can prove forgery by establishing motive and/or gain (even if the gain is incomplete).
A forgery allegation requires one of the following to have occurred:
- Knowingly signing other people’s names without authority
- Counterfeiting or copying another person’s handwriting or official seal on a document
- Changing or falsifying legal documents such as property conveyances, court records, will, or any other legal and formal writings that can be used as solid evidence in the court of law
- Tampering any of the following legal documents:
- Traveler’s check
- Money order
- Bank bills and notes
- Legal deed of the property
- Official lottery tickets
- Real property lease
- Formal contracts
- Certificates of stock
- Other items listed in the statute
In some forgery cases, others who benefitted from the forgery may also be liable. For example, if a husband forges a signature on a check and his wife uses the check to buy groceries, knowing the check has a forged signature, the wife may also be liable.
Proof of Forgery
In order for the accused be the convicted of forgery, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a document was falsified, and when it was falsified, it was done so with the intent to defraud.
The prosecutors can also establish that the accused or suspect has a clear motive to deceive the victim. It can be through an act of defrauding someone to gain benefit or advantage over the victim. When the prosecutors established the latter ground, a forgery case can be submitted even when the action is not completed. An example is when the accused was found guilty of falsifying a check document even when he/she did not get any financial amount because of incomplete action.
A forgery can continue even when there is no actual person defrauded or no one suffers from property loss.
Most white-collar offenses, including forgeries, are non-violent. Depending on the severity of the offense, the prosecutor may charge the offense as a misdemeanor or felony. The severity of the penalties can vary based on criminal history, scale of wrongdoing, and impact of the offense on the victim.
A misdemeanor forgery occurs when the amount of the fraud does not exceed $950. Punishment for misdemeanor forgery is a jail sentence of up to one year.
Forgery when the amount of the fraud exceeds $950 can be charged as a felony. Felony forgery can be punished by a jail sentence of up to three years.
Possible Legal Defenses
Based on the facts and evidence presented, your attorney may be able to establish the following legal defenses:
- Falsely accused of forgery
- Coerced or forced confession
- Not aware that the legal document/evidence is falsified
- Permission to sign legal documents on behalf of the victim
Contact Experienced Forgery Attorneys Today!
It is of utmost importance to talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney to achieve the best possible legal outcome.
Chastaine Jones has a team of dedicated and experienced white-collar criminal defense attorneys. Legal charges and possible defenses are thoroughly explained to our clients, providing them with immeasurable comfort in difficult circumstances. We also offer confidential case consultations to prospective clients so that they can feel confident in choosing the right representation. Email us or call 916-894-8431 to arrange a time to speak with us.