Forgery is a crime involving placing false information on a document or form. Examples of forgery include signing someone else’s name, altering an official document, or using a fake form.

How Does California Law Define Forgery?

California law defines forgery as the intent to defraud an institution or person by:

  • Materially altering a document
  • Making a false document
  • Using an unauthorized document

What Does a Prosecutor Have to Prove to Convict Me of Forgery?

A prosecutor only has to prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of forgery. The defendant: 

  • Committed forgery by materially altering, making a false document, or using an unauthorized document.
  • Committed the criminal act with act with the intent to commit fraud 

Is Forgery Considered a Felony or Misdemeanor in the State?

In California, forgery is considered a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The type of charge is up to the prosecutor. But typically, the prosecutor looks at the value of the item forged to determine the type of charge.

What is the Criminal Sentence for Forgery?

The defendant is typically charged with misdemeanor forgery if they forged a check, money order, or something similar for $950 or less. The punishment for a misdemeanor is up to 1 year in jail.

The defendant can be charged with felony forgery if the amount forged is more than $950. A conviction of felony forgery is punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail. 

Should I Talk to a Lawyer About My Situation?

Yes. To understand more about the possible defenses available to you, contact a criminal lawyer.