Being charged with forgery is a lot like getting caught cheating off another student’s test in grade school. Only instead of being called out by the teacher, you risk time in state prison and a hefty fine.

We’re going to dig into this particular charge below. To start, we’ll look at how California defines the crime of forgery so we know exactly what we are being charged with. Then we’ll explore the different penalties you could face for a charge of forgery in Rosemead. Once we understand the states we’re playing for in a forgery trial, we can then see a variety of tactics used to defend against such a charge.

How Does California Define Forgery?

To define forgery we need to look at Penal Code 470. This informs us that a person is guilty of forgery if:

  • With the intent to defraud, they knowing that they have no authority to do so, sign the name of another person or a fictitious person for items in the below category
  • With the intent to defraud, they counterfeit or forge the seal or handwriting of another
  • With the intent to defraud, alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record of any will, codicil, 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.

Those give us a pretty clear description of when forgery is committed. Signing the name of another person is not just enough, however. As mentioned above, the law sets out a fairly comprehensive list of what items can be held by law as forged or counterfeited:

  • Any check, bond, bank bill, or note, cashier’s check, traveler’s check, money order
  • Any draft, controller’s warrant for the payment of money at the treasury, county order or warrant,
  • Any request for the payment of money, receipt for money or good, bill of exchange, promissory note, order
  • Any assignment of any bond, writing obligatory, or other contract for money or other property, contract, due bill for payment of money or property, receipt for money or property
  • Any passage ticket, lottery ricker, or share purporting to be issued under the California State Lottery Act of 1984
  • Any trading stamp, power of attorney, certificate of ownership or other document evidencing ownership of a vehicle or undocumented vessel
  • Any certificate of any share, right, or interest in the stock of any corporation or association, the delivery of goods or chattels of any kind
  • The delivery of any instrument of writing, or acquittance, release, or discharge of any debt, account, suit, action, demand, or any other thing, real or personal
  • Any transfer or assurance of money, certificate of shares of stock, goods, chattels, or other property whatever
  • Any letter of attorney, or other power to receive money, or to receive or transfer certificates of shares of stock or annuities, or to let, lease, dispose of, alien, or convey any goods, chattels, lands, or tenements, or other estate, real or personal
  • To Any falsified acknowledgment of any notary public, or any notary public who issues an acknowledgment knowing it to be false

What Are the Penalties for Forgery in Rosemead?

As a crime, forgery is charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony depending upon the dollar value of what the forgery was used to obtain. If the value obtained was less than $950, it will be charged as a misdemeanor crime. If it is above $950, it is a felony.

As a misdemeanor crime, a forgery conviction could get you a year in county jail and a reasonably low fine. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, however, there may be federal powers involved and federal sentences could be harsher.

As a felony, the maximum sentence that you could get for a charge of forgery is sixteen months in a state prison or two to three years in a county jail. Fines are much higher when forgery is charged as a felony and so you could be made to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

What Are the Defenses Against a Charge of Forgery?

The good news about forgery charges is that there is a rather high burden placed on prosecutors to convince a jury that you are indeed guilty. They need to show that a document or a signature is false, that you were the one that created or signed the document, that you did it with the clear intent to defraud somebody, or that you falsely manipulated some legal documentation.

This is good news because an experienced attorney can work with the specifics of your particular case to select from a number of different defensive tactics. This means that there are a lot of angles that can be explored in the investigation phase of your case.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that there are some options for alternative sentencing should you be unable to entirely beat the charge. For example, if you have a fairly clean background but you were caught forging a check then you could be eligible for a program that sees you pay restitution and attend a financial literacy class rather than serve jail time. In this case, should you check off all the required conditions then your conviction would be removed from your record.

Should I Work With an Attorney If I’m Charged With Forgery in Rosemead?

It’s never a smart idea to give up your right to legal representation. If you are charged with forgery then an experienced attorney will have plenty of options for ways to defend you. However, if you don’t work with an attorney then you’re going to have to research past cases with similar circumstances in order to get an idea of what steps you should take.

If that sounds difficult, that’s because it is. However, when you work with an attorney you can leave the researching and investigation to them. They’re paid to defend you and they’ll give it everything they’ve got. But in the meantime, you can get back to focusing on your life and trust that your attorney will get in contact with you whenever anything important happens or whenever there is a decision you need to make.