Forgery is a kind of fraud that has both a “white collar” and “theft” characteristics. Many think this is simply affixing the signature of another but there are greater implications to this.
This crime is committed when an individual intends to commit a fraud through the signing of someone else’s name without authorization, counterfeit or recreation of the seal or handwriting of another without prior approval, alter or falsify specific legal documents or falsely make, alter, counterfeit or publish any document relating to a sale, transfer or exchange that is fictitious in nature, or the disposal of property after death. Other documents include any notarized document or court issued document for use.
To be convicted of the crime of forgery, there is a need to prove that the accused engaged in the acts listed and there is a specific intent to defraud. With these two, there is no need to prove the victim was defrauded of any amount or if there was any attempt at restitution.
This offense is called a wobbler, meaning they can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense. For a misdemeanor forgery conviction, the maximum sentence is one year in county jail and for a felony forgery conviction, the imposable penalty is either sixteen months, two or three years in state prison.
There are sentencing enhancements and other accessory penalties imposable for conviction under this criminal offense. When there have been two previous convictions, the next conviction’s imposable penalties would fall within the purview of the Three Strikes Law of California. Additional penalties include payment of fines up to $10,000 for a felony or $1,000 for a misdemeanor offense, pay restitution to its victims and participate in community service.
The crime of forgery is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.