Fraud / Forgery

Fraud, considered a white collar crime, is actually a blanket term covering several theft crimes including forgery. Forgery is defined by California Penal Code section 470, as when a person, with the intent to commit a fraud, knowingly signs the name of another, forges the handwriting of another, alters or falsifies a will or other conveyance or court judgment, or attempts to pass a false check, note, receipt or ticket as genuine. Forgery is a wobbler, meaning that it is chargeable and punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Where charged as a misdemeanor, forgery is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a fine of $1000. But where charged as a felony, forgery can carry a sentence of up to 3 years in state prison.   Fortunately though, since the realignment, felony forgery may now be sentenced pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h), meaning that the convicted may serve his term in the county jail with the potential of more liberal custody credit and an earlier release date.

Several defenses are available to the defendant charged with forgery. Forgery is a specific intent crime, requiring that the prosecution prove that the defendant actually intended to deceive someone in order to deprive them of something of value. A good defense attorney may be able to convince a jury that you made an error or otherwise did not intend to defraud someone. Someone’s “intent” or the contents of his mind must necessarily be proven by circumstantial evidence. The reasonable doubt standard coupled with circumstantial evidence dictates that where there is both circumstantial evidence that tends towards guilt and towards innocence, the jury must accept the circumstantial evidence that tends towards innocence and acquit the accused defendant.

Where a defense is not available at trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the court to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor and award probation. In some circumstances, a skilled defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to allow the defendant to enter misdemeanor diversion pursuant to Penal Code chapter 2.9 section 1001.5 et seq. including bad check diversion. In this case, a defendant may be able to suspend prosecution while the defendant completes community service or a counseling program and pays restitution to the victim.

The information contained on this website represents opinion only and is not intended to, nor should be relied on as legal advice of any kind. Should you wish to consult with an attorney, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Jesse Terrell at (323) 638-4712.
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