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What You Need to Know About Defending Yourself Against Forgery Charges in San Francisco

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

What You Need to Know About Defending Yourself Against Forgery Charges in San Francisco

Getting charged with forgery can be scary. It’s a serious crime that can lead to fines, probation, or even jail time if convicted. But don’t panic – there are defenses available that a good lawyer can use to fight the charges. This article will walk you through exactly what forgery is, what the penalties are, and most importantly, the best legal defenses to beat a forgery charge in San Francisco.

What is Forgery?

Forgery is defined as the act of falsifying or altering a document, signature, check, contract, or other written instrument with the intent to defraud or deceive. There are a few common types of forgery:

  • Signature forgery – signing someone else’s name without their consent
  • Handwriting forgery – imitating someone’s handwriting to make a false document
  • Document forgery – creating a false document or altering a real document

To be convicted of forgery in California, the prosecution must prove these key elements:

  • You signed someone else’s name without their permission
  • You imitated someone’s handwriting
  • You falsified or altered a document
  • You had the intent to defraud or deceive when you committed the act

All of these elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, otherwise you cannot be found guilty. This is where a good defense attorney comes in.

Penalties for Forgery in California

Forgery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony in California. Here are the potential penalties:

Misdemeanor Forgery

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Informal probation

Felony Forgery

  • 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Formal probation up to 5 years

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on a few factors:

  • Your criminal history
  • The type of document forged
  • The value of the forged document
  • If you’ve forged multiple documents

Forgery of checks or financial documents over $950 can be charged as a felony. Multiple forgeries can also lead to felony charges.

Common Defenses Against Forgery Charges

While forgery allegations should always be taken seriously, there are often good defenses an experienced criminal defense lawyer can use to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Here are some of the most common forgery defenses in California:

You Had Permission

One of the key elements of forgery is that you signed someone’s name or created a document without their consent. So having evidence that you had permission, like an email or text message, can be a solid defense.

For example, if you signed your spouse’s name on a car loan application, but can show a text giving you permission, it may defeat the charges.

You Didn’t Intend to Defraud

Prosecutors must also prove you specifically intended to commit fraud with the forged document. If you can show you had no intent to defraud anyone, it can defeat the charges.

For example, signing your boss’s name on a company check to cover office supplies would likely not be considered fraudulent intent.

False Accusations & Mistaken Identity

Sometimes forgery allegations stem from false accusations or simple misunderstandings. Proving the accusations are false or mistaken can lead to a dismissal.

For example, if someone with a similar name or handwriting forged the document, it’s possible you were falsely accused.

You Thought the Document Was Legitimate

If you can show you reasonably believed the document was authentic and had no intent to defraud, it may defeat charges.

For example, unknowingly depositing a forged check given to you by someone else.

Illegally Obtained Evidence

Evidence gathered in violation of your rights, like through an illegal search, can be excluded from the case. Without the tainted evidence, the prosecution may have to drop the charges.

An experienced forgery defense lawyer will thoroughly examine how the evidence was obtained.

How an Attorney Can Defend You Against Forgery

The best way to fight forgery charges is to retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can protect your rights and build the strongest defense to defeat the allegations. Here are some of the key ways a lawyer can defend against forgery:

  • Examine if there’s sufficient evidence to prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Investigate whether you had permission or consent
  • Gather evidence showing you lacked fraudulent intent
  • Interview witnesses to support your side of the story
  • File motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dismissed

Having an attorney in your corner levels the playing field against the prosecution and ensures your rights are protected.

How to Find the Best Forgery Defense Attorney in San Francisco

If you or a loved one is facing forgery allegations in San Francisco, it’s critical to have the best legal representation possible. Here are some tips on finding the right forgery defense lawyer:

  • Look for 10+ years of experience specifically handling forgery and fraud cases
  • Find someone familiar with San Francisco courts, judges, and prosecutors
  • Ask about their track record getting forgery charges dismissed pre-trial
  • Understand how they build a customized defense for each client
  • Make sure they are aggressive negotiators but will take your case to trial if needed
  • Ask if they can provide client reviews and references to call
  • Compare fees but don’t let cost outweigh experience and qualifications

Don’t take chances with your future. The right forgery defense attorney can make all the difference in defeating the charges and avoiding harsh penalties if convicted. With an experienced lawyer on your side, you can rest assured knowing you have the best defense against these serious allegations.

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