Choose the Best Forgery Defense Attorney

Forgery, which refers to the unauthorized altering of a written document with intent to defraud the government, a person, or an organization, is a type of fraud. These can be complex cases involving volumes of evidence on both sides. You can only move forward with peace of mind if you have chosen the best forgery defense attorney. Contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 to request a consultation.

Examples of Forgery

Some examples of actions that could be forgery include:

  • Signing someone else’s name to a document
  • Signing the name of a fictional person
  • Counterfeiting or forging another person’s handwriting
  • Forging a seal that belongs to another person or entity
  • Altering, forging, counterfeiting, and other fraudulent acts involve notes, checks, or other financial institution documents

Note that the intent to defraud is a necessary element of fraud. If you signed someone else’s name to a document but did not intend for it to be taken seriously, then you are not guilty of the crime of fraud.

Prosecutors Must Prove These Three Elements to Prove Fraud

In order to have met their burden of proof, the prosecution must prove these three elements:

  1. You did not have permission or authorization to engage in the conduct you took part in. For example, if you signed your husband’s name on a receipt, it is only illegal if he did not give permission for you to do so.
  2. You knew that you did not have permission to take part in the conduct. For example, if you signed for a roommate’s certified letter and did not realize that you could not do so, then you would not be guilty of fraud.
  3. You intended to defraud someone or some organization. This is a significant element. Once again, if you signed a false name as a joke, you should not be convicted of fraud.

You Do Not Need to Have Been Successful

Note that you do not have to have been successful in the fraud, and it is not a requirement for the prosecution to prove that you profited from it. Take this example: if you took a blank check from your boss’s desk, listed yourself as the payee, and signed the name of your boss, you have committed forgery. This is true even if you tried to deposit it and were unsuccessful. It is the intent that is important.

Examples of Documents That Can Give Rise to Forgery Documents

While checks and promissory notes are the most commonly forged documents, they are far from the only documents associated with forgery. Other documents that can be involved include:

  • Lottery tickets
  • Money orders
  • Power of Attorney
  • Mortgage satisfactions
  • Last wills and testaments
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Stock certificates
  • Leases

Forgery Laws Are Broad in California

One of the most significant issues with forgery laws in California is the fact that they are so broad. For example, you could be arrested for forgery if you are in possession of a fake or altered driver’s license. If the prosecution can prove that you have the license in order to mislead the police or anyone else, then you could be convicted of forgery.

Potential Consequences for a Forgery Conviction

Forgery is what’s known in California as a wobbler. This means that you can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor depending on the specifics of the case, your criminal background, and the opinion of the prosecutor. You could also face sentencing enhancements that make the punishment even harsher. Potential consequences include:

  • Felony forgery.
    • 16 months, two years, or three years in prison
    • Up to $10,000 in fines
    • Five years of probation
    • Restitution to the victim(s)
    • Community Service
  • Misdemeanor forgery.
    • Up to one year in jail
    • Fines of up to $1,000
    • Three years of probation
    • Restitution to the victim(s)
    • Community service

The punishment can also be increased by conduct enhancements, which include:

  • Causing losses of more than $500,000
    • Two, three, or five additional years in prison
  • Causing losses of between $100,000 and $500,000
    • One or two additional years in prison
  • Committing forgery for a criminal gang
    • Two, three, or four additional years in prison
  • Forging to defraud victims of a natural disaster
    • One additional year in jail

As you can see, the legal consequences for a forgery conviction can be significant.

Jail is Not the Only Consequence of a Felony Conviction

In addition to longer sentences and bigger fines, felony forgery convictions can also lead to the loss of certain rights. You could lose your right to own a firearm, to qualify for a professional or state license, and your ability to receive security clearances in a professional setting. You could have a difficult time finding a job or somewhere to live with a felony conviction on your record.

We Will Help You Find the Best Defense

There are a number of defense options that might work, depending on the specifics of your case. They include:

  • Showing a lack of intent to defraud anyone.
  • The document you allegedly forged lacks legal significance.
  • You can consent to sign the document.
  • You made a mistake such as signing the wrong check.
  • You do not have the legal capacity to be held responsible for your actions.
  • You were forced through physical harm to commit the crime.
  • You have the Power of Attorney to sign as you did.
  • You have the authority to sign via a business relationship
  • You have no knowledge of the crime and were not involved

What’s the best defense option for your case? That depends on the facts of your case. Contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 now to talk to a criminal defense attorney who can help you.