Penal Code 470 PC | Forgery

Penal Code 470 PC | Forgery

Forgery–it sounds like something out of an old-timey novel, right? But forgery is a real crime that people get charged with even today. So what exactly is forgery under California law, and what happens if you get charged with it? Let’s break it down.

What is Forgery Under Penal Code 470 PC?

The legal definition of forgery is when someone does any of the following things to deceive or defraud another person:

  • Signs someone else’s name without their permission
  • Falsifies or alters a document, like a check, contract, deed, or driver’s license
  • Makes a false document or one that purports to be authentic
  • Passes off a falsified or altered document as authentic

Some examples of forgery include:

  • Signing someone else’s name on a check to cash it
  • Altering a prescription to get more pills
  • Making a fake ID or driver’s license
  • Falsifying a doctor’s note for work or school
  • Creating fake concert tickets to sell them

So basically forgery is falsifying or altering documents to scam or deceive people. It doesn’t matter if you actually succeed in deceiving someone–just the attempt itself is enough to be charged with forgery.

What Are the Penalties for Forgery in California?

Forgery is a wobbler offense under California law. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

Misdemeanor Forgery

Misdemeanor forgery is punishable by:

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

Felony Forgery

Felony forgery is punishable by:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Formal probation

Factors that can make forgery a felony rather than a misdemeanor include:

  • You have a prior forgery conviction on your record
  • The forged document was a check worth over $950
  • You forged multiple documents

Common Defenses to Forgery Charges

Some common defenses that a California criminal defense lawyer may use to fight PC 470 forgery charges include:

  • You didn’t have criminal intent – Forgery requires that you intended to defraud or deceive someone when you forged the document. If you can show you lacked this intent, it’s a valid defense.
  • You had permission – It’s not forgery if the person gave you permission to sign their name or alter the document. For example, if your mom let you sign her name on a check to deposit into her account.
  • You were falsely accused – Sometimes forgery allegations stem from disputes or misunderstandings rather than actual wrongdoing. An experienced attorney can cast doubt on the accuser’s credibility.
  • You made a mistake – Honest mistakes happen. If you accidentally signed the wrong name or put an incorrect date, it doesn’t necessarily mean you had intent to commit forgery.

Related Offenses

Other crimes related to forgery under the California penal code include:

So forgery often goes hand-in-hand with other fraud, theft, or financial crimes. A skilled defense attorney can analyze the facts of your case to identify any related charges that could potentially be reduced or dismissed.

Don’t Face Forgery Charges Alone

Being accused of forgery can have serious consequences that impact your freedom, finances, and future. But an experienced California criminal defense lawyer can thoroughly analyze the evidence, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and build the strongest defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t go it alone against the power of the state–get an advocate in your corner.