Forgery PC 470

Facing a forgery charge in California? You’re not alone, and it’s crucial to understand what you’re up against.

Under California Penal Code 470, forgery is a serious crime. It can mean altering a document, faking a signature, or even duplicating someone’s seal. It’s not just about money and checks. This law covers many other types of documents as well.

Getting charged with forgery can turn your life upside down. It’s a potential felony. You could end up with a criminal record, and that comes with long-term consequences. You might struggle to find a job, get housing, or even qualify for loans. Plus, there’s the threat of time behind bars and steep fines.

Don’t panic. Elite Criminal Defense is here to guide you through the complicated legal maze that is California’s forgery law. We’ll cover everything from what constitutes forgery to potential penalties and defense strategies.

Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better you can fight your charges. Let’s dive in

Hand with tweezers holding id photo over passport as if forging the travel documents

California ‘Forgery’ Laws – Penal Code 470 PC

Forgery in California is covered under Penal Code 470. This law defines forgery in various ways. You could be charged for altering or faking any of the following types of documents, among others: 

  • Checks
  • Legal contracts
  • Identification cards
  • Deeds

Now, here’s a key point: forgery is a “wobbler” offense in California. That means the prosecutor can charge it as either a misdemeanor or a felony. How they choose usually depends on your criminal history and the details of the case.

Understanding what you’re up against is the first step in building a strong defense. The potential penalties are serious, but there are also defenses that could help you fight the charges.

What Is the Legal Definition of Forgery in California?

California Penal Code 470 states that forgery is falsifying another person’s signature or handwriting for financial gain. Forgery charges may also include cases of falsifying a fictional person for, for example, getting money orders, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, or other financial gain.

For a prosecutor to convict you of forgery under Penal Code 470, they have to prove a few key things:

  • The Act. You actually did one of the acts listed as forgery. This could be faking a signature, altering a document, and so on.
  • Intent to Defraud. You had the purpose of tricking someone or gaining an unfair benefit. If you didn’t intend to deceive, it likely doesn’t fit the definition of forgery.
  • A Victim Was Involved. There must be another person or entity that you intended to defraud. If no person or entity was targeted, it likely doesn’t fit the definition of forgery.
  • The Document Was Falsified. The document you altered, created, or signed has to be one that, if it had been genuine, would hold legal significance.

Knowing these points gives you a clear idea of what the prosecution is aiming to prove. This can be crucial when you’re talking to your attorney about building a defense strategy.

What Are the Legal Defenses for Forgery?

If you’re facing forgery charges, it’s not the end of the road. You have options. Legal defenses exist that can help you fight these charges. Knowing these defenses can be a game-changer for your case.

Your attorney will look at the specifics of what happened. They’ll try to see if the prosecution can really prove you committed forgery. Then, your legal team can use different defense strategies to challenge the evidence. Let’s delve into some common defenses that may apply to your situation.

No Intent to Defraud

First, you may try to prove that you had no intent to defraud another person. Depending on the type of forgery, you may be able to say that, while you may have used another person’s name, it may not have been for personal gain, or it may have been done by accident.

For example, you may have an elderly family member who sometimes needs help signing checks or paying their bills. You may have been helping them do this, but you made a mistake and were accused of forgery. Your attorney may focus on proving you never intended to cause harm.

Falsely Accused

In other cases, you may have been simply falsely accused. Another person may have defrauded someone else for bank bills and other financial gain, only to try and place the blame on you.

This defense may work if you were accused by another person who may have mistaken you for someone else. The right criminal defense lawyer can review your case and provide legal advice on how to proceed.

Coerced Confession

If you felt threatened by California police officers trying to close criminal cases, you may have been pushed to confess to a crime you did not commit. The California criminal justice system is imperfect; some police officers may engage in misconduct, and you may have suffered for their actions.

If you were coerced into confessing, talk to your attorney about your options to retract your statements and gather evidence that you did not commit this crime.

What Are the Penalties for Forgery PC 470?

California, forgery under Penal Code 470 is a “wobbler” offense. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your case details and criminal history.

If convicted of misdemeanor forgery, you could face:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

For a felony forgery conviction, the penalties can include:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Remember, the penalties can be more severe if you have prior convictions or if the forgery involves large amounts of money. Consult with your attorney to understand the specifics of your case.

wooden judge on book with handcuffs

Can a Person Get a Forgery Conviction Expunged?

Expungement may be a tempting option for those accused of forgery and want to avoid future penalties. Expungement wipes away a criminal charge from your case. In these situations, it is as if the criminal offense was never committed in the first place.

In many cases, it is possible to get a forgery conviction expunged in California.

However, expungement is not a guarantee. Often, if you are eligible to expunge a criminal conviction, it may take years of waiting before you are eligible. In some cases, expungement is simply not an option.

Often, your best option is to fight the charge in an attempt to avoid a conviction in the first place.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Forgery in California?

In California, the statute of limitations for forgery depends on the severity of the charge. For felony forgery, the prosecutor has four years from the date of the alleged offense to file charges against you. For misdemeanor forgery, the time frame is shorter — generally just one year.

It’s important to consult an attorney to understand how these time limits apply to your specific case. If the statute of limitations has expired, your attorney may be able to argue to have the charges against you dismissed.

Lawyer and client negotiation in legal judgement consulting.

Are There Related Offenses?

Forgery can cover any time you are accused of falsifying documents for personal gain. That includes anything from signing legal documents under a fake name to creating a driver’s license you do not legally have.

In addition to covering a wide variety of offenses, forgery also has many related offenses. You may even be facing forgery recharges in addition to one or more related but separate offenses.

Credit Card Fraud – PC 484f

Credit card fraud under California Penal Code Section 484f is a serious offense. This law makes it illegal to either forge, alter, or create a counterfeit credit or debit card with the intent to defraud. It also criminalizes the act of knowingly signing another person’s name, without consent, on a credit card transaction.

PC 484f addresses both the act of creating the fraudulent card and using a fraudulent card. If you alter an existing card, forge someone else’s signature, or create a counterfeit card, you could be charged under this statute. If convicted, you can face penalties including imprisonment and/or fines, depending on whether it is treated as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Check Fraud – PC 476

Check fraud is governed by Penal Code Section 476. This law makes it illegal to write, possess, or pass a check when you know that the account has insufficient funds or that the check is fraudulent. Essentially, it’s a crime to knowingly use a bad check to obtain goods, services, or money.

The law focuses on the “knowing” aspect. To convict you of check fraud under PC 476, the prosecutor has to prove that you were aware the check was bad when you used it. It’s not just about writing a bad check; it’s about doing so with the intent to defraud.

Penalties for check fraud can vary. It’s a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and your criminal history. Penalties can include jail time, fines, or both.

If you’re facing check fraud charges, it’s important to consult a criminal defense attorney. The legal defenses available could include lack of intent or even that you were unaware the check was bad.

Making or Selling Counterfeit Goods – PC 350

Making, selling, or possessing counterfeit goods can lead to harsh penalties. The making or selling counterfeit goods is typically a misdemeanor charge, but penalties can include thousands of dollars in fines and time in jail.

The severity of this charge is based on the items’ retail or fair market value. If the value of these items is larger than the value required for grand theft charges, you may face felony penalties, which are much more severe.

Speak with a Forgery Defense Attorney 

While forgery is a non-violent crime, it can still come with unbelievably harsh penalties in California.Fortunately, you do not have to simply accept the charge you’re facing. A forgery defense attorney in San Diego is ready to help. If you’re facing forgery accusations, contact an attorney at Elite Criminal Defense. We offer consultations to our new clients, so reach out by calling 619-642-2310 or completing our online contact form.

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