California Penal Code 470 P.C.

Forgery typically involves the use of another’s signature or documents for the purpose of intentionally deceiving another for financial gain.

What is a Forgery Charge?

Under California Penal Code 470 P.C., you can be prosecuted for Forgery if you sign the name of another person or even of a fictitious person with the intent to commit fraud.

The following are examples where you can be charged with Forgery: billing statements, business checks, business formation documents, cashier’s checks, contracts, employment applications, LLC or corporation paperwork, money orders, personal checks, real estate transactions, stock certificates, traveler’s checks, etc.

Forgery is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the prosecutor can charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal record. If the monetary value resulting from the alleged forgery is under nine hundred and fifty dollars ($950.00), then you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor.

What are Examples of Forgery?

Examples of situations involving Forgery include the following:

  • You signed the name of one of your college professors on a fake letter of recommendation that you used to apply to graduate schools.
  • While working as an attorney at a law firm, you realized that you had lost the signature page of a now-deceased client on his will. To cover up your mistake, you took the same client’s signature page from another document and switched out the blank signature page on the will.
  • You were authorized to sign your boss’s signature on company checks for minor expenses. However, without his knowledge or consent, you signed a large check directly to yourself to cover your gambling losses.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Forgery Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of Forgery under California Penal Code 470 P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 1900):

  • You signed another person’s name to a document;
  • You did not have authority to sign that name;
  • You knew you did not have that authority; and
  • When you signed the document, you intended to defraud.

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Forgery Charge?

If you are convicted of Forgery under California Penal Code 470 P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor); and
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 (felony) or $1,000 (misdemeanor);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Victim restitution (if applicable);
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Forgery Charge?

Forgery cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Forgery attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with Forgery, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove Forgery.

The following are the possible defenses to a Forgery charge:

  • Lack of specific intent. At the time of the incident, you did not have the specific intent to defraud.
  • Consent. You reasonably believed you had consent or actual authority to sign.
  • Involuntary inducement. You were unwittingly induced to sign the name on the document.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who committed the alleged ADW. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Forgery Charges Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented many clients against Forgery charges, including both as felonies and misdemeanors.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Forgery criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).


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