Individuals in California must file legal documents in public offices for a wide range of reasons. All filed documents must be legitimate and genuine in order to avoid criminal charges. Filing any forged document can lead to charges under California Penal Code Section 115: Filing a False Document.
Many people do not consider issues with paperwork to be a serious crime, but a conviction for PC 115 can have serious consequences. The professional legal team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you go over this charge, possible defenses, and the penalties for a conviction.
PC 115: The Official Definition
Violations of PC 115 occur anytime an individual:
- Files, Registers, or Records a Document with a Public Office, IF
- The Document is Forged or Otherwise False AND
- The Individual Knows the Document is False or Forged
Individuals should only be prosecuted for filing a false document if the document can actually be filed. This means individuals should not be convicted for trying to file a document that would not be accepted at a public office in any case.
There are many different documents that can result in a PC 115 charge. Filing a false document charges are often used in real estate fraud cases that involve forging property deeds. However, individuals can also be prosecuted for filing many other documents, including:
- Bail Bonds
- Fishing Records
- Deeds of Trust
- Mechanics’ Liens
PC 115: Example of Filing a False Document
There are many ways that an individual can file a false document. This example demonstrates one way in which a PC 115 violate could occur:
A woman is taking care of her elderly father and decides that his home should be moved to her name. She does not ask him about this and does not go through legal channels. Instead, she forges the property deed and files the paperwork. She could be convicted of filing a false document if her actions were discovered.
PC 115: Penalties for a Conviction
The court system in California can hand down incredibly harsh penalties for filing a false document conviction. PC 115 is considered a felony in California. Convictions can lead to:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Prison Time: Up to 3 Years
Individuals can face penalties for each false document that they file. An individual that files three false documents at the same time could end up spending 3 years in prison for each document, for a total of 9 years of prison time.
Prison time may also be increased if filing a false document deprives a property owner of:
- $65,000 – $100,000: 1-4 Years of Additional Prison Time
- More than $100,000: 1-5 Years of Additional Prison Time
Note that, depending on the type of false document that is filed, an individual could face additional charges. Filing a false claim is often tied to charges such as:
- California Penal Code Section 532(f): Mortgage Fraud
- California Penal Code Section 470: Forgery
- California Penal Code Section 132 & 134: Offering Or Preparing False Evidence
- California Penal Code Section 135: Destroying Or Concealing Evidence
These charges can lead to harsher penalties that can include increased fines and additional years of incarceration.
PC 115: Defenses to Filing a False Document Charges
Building a defense for a PC 115 charge can require your criminal defense lawyer to dig into the facts surrounding your situation. Depending on your circumstances, a professional lawyer may be able to show that:
You Filed a False Document by Accident
Often, many drafts of a legal document are created before the final product is printed. It can be easy to grab an early (“false”) draft and file it. You should not be convicted under PC 115 if you intended to file the correct document and merely made a mistake.
You Were Tricked by a Forgery
Sometimes, individuals in California are given forged documents that they believe to be legitimate. If you filed a document that you believed to be valid, you should not be convicted for filing a false document.
The severity of a PC 115 charge means that you should get help from a professional criminal defense lawyer right away to handle these accusations.
Getting Help with Filing a False Document Charges
Individuals accused of violating California Penal Code Section 115: Filing a False Document often end up facing difficult legal challenges. You can get help defending yourself by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today. We can offer you a FREE case evaluation today.
Get the professional help you need by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.