According to California Penal Code section 470, a person commits forgery when, with the intent to defraud, he/she does one of the following:
- Signs the name of another person (or a fictitious person)
- Alters or forges a check, money or money order
- Alters or falsifies a driver's license
- Makes or alters any entry in any book of records (e.g. a bookkeeper or CPA forges statements)
- Falsifies a prescription
The act becomes a crime when the intent to defraud exists, based on the knowledge of the false nature of the document.
What is the Punishment for Forgery?
Forgery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on a number of factors, such as the persons past criminal record and the sophistication of the forgery. A misdemeanor can be punished with up to 1 year of incarceration, while a felony carries up to 3 years imprisonment.
Are there any defenses to forgery?
The defenses to an accusation of forgery are always unique to the facts of the case, but the primary question always becomes whether or not the individual had the intent to defraud. Did he/she believe in good faith that he was authorized to create the document? While intoxication or some other kind of impairment is not always a defense against the accusation of forgery, it can mitigate the degree of guilt. Someone who was impaired at the time of the commission of the crime can claim that his or her condition affected their judgment, making them unaware that he or she was committing a crime.
If you or a loved one is being investigated for forgery or fraud, it is important to seek immediate attention from a criminal defense attorney. Since 1999, we have handled several hundred felony and misdemeanor cases in the Riverside County Superior Courts. Our office is located in near the Southwest Justice Center and we represent individuals across Riverside County, including the communities of Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee, Perris, Banning, Hemet, Lake Elsinore and Corona, Winchester.