Forgery is the making of a false document with the intent to defraud another. Forgery may be punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
A person who, with the intent to defraud, with no authority to do so, signs the name of another person or of a fictitious person to any of certain items may be charged with the crime of forgery. Those items are: any check, bond, bank bill or note, cashier's check, traveler's check, money order, and several other documents as listed in the penal code. Generally these documents will have value.
A person may also be charged with forgery if that person, with the intent to defraud, falsely makes, alters, passes or attempts or offers to pass, as true and genuine, any item that purports to have value, while knowing that the item is false, altered, forged, or counterfeited. A common example of this is when a person writes a check that the person knows to be counterfeit.
Any person who, with the intent to defraud, alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record of any official document may also be charged with forgery.
If a forgery is charged as a felony a person may be sentenced to as much as 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison. If it is filed as a misdemeanor a person may be punished by no more than one year in jail. Forgery involving medical records is in all cases a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than six months in jail.
If a person issues a check knowing that there are insufficient funds on deposit to pay that check, the crime is generally punished as is any other forgery. However, if the total amount of the check does not exceed $200, and he or she has not previously been convicted of forgery, the offense is only a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum up to one year in county jail.
A good criminal defense lawyer who zealously defends his clients rights will often times help a person avoid the severe penalties for forgery. There are always options and defenses that may be available in every situation and no two cases are ever alike. If you or someone you care about is being charged with a forgery crime, the best thing you can do is retain an experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyer. Call Sigal Law Group today for a free consultation with no obligation.