It can be an easy mistake to make – you sign something for someone else or fudge a number or two, then the next thing you know, you’re being hit with a forgery conviction. It may seem like a minor, white-collar crime, but forgery can have serious consequences in California.
Thankfully, the attorneys at Simmrin Law Group are here to help you understand what a forgery charge can mean. Learn more about the laws and penalties that come with forgery. If you have more questions about your specific case, you can always get a free initial consultation with one of our forgery lawyers in California.
What Is the Difference Between Forgery and Falsification?
Many people use the terms forgery and falsification interchangeably, but the two words do have different legal connotations. Falsification is the alteration, passing, or possession of a document for illegal purposes. That usually means having an unauthorized legal document like a fake I.D. or inaccurate financial documents.
Forgery is a type of falsification. In order to count as forgery, according to California Penal Code (CPC) §470, the document must be created with fraudulent intent. That means a forgery is meant to deceive someone for your own personal gain. Common examples of forgery include forging someone’s signature, falsifying a legal or medical document, or printing a fake check.
If you’ve been accused of forgery, you should have a skilled lawyer by your side to guide you through your case. A California forgery attorney will be able to tell you what can be done about your case, including what your forgery charge means. Don’t hesitate to get a free consultation to learn more.
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Is Forgery a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
The felony status of a forgery charge depends on the monetary value of the attempted fraud. If the defendant attempted to access $950 or more through forgery, then it is a felony. Anything below that counts as a misdemeanor.
The distinction between misdemeanor and felony in a forgery case is an important one. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, then you could possibly face up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines, plus possible misdemeanor probation.
If you are charged with felony forgery, however, your punishment could be much more severe. Those charged with forgery as a felony could face up to three years in county jail, fines up to $10,000, and felony probation, which is much more strict than misdemeanor probation.
While the line that separates misdemeanor and felony probation seems very clear, it can be muddied in court, and prosecutors could try to increase your charge. A criminal defense lawyer in California may be able to get your charge reduced by pushing back against the prosecutor and negotiating for lesser penalties.
What Is the Minimum Sentence for Forgery in California?
There is no one set “minimum” sentence for forgery. The least severe charge you can receive is a misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in county jail and $1,000 in fines. The minimum jail time is technically none, and the minimum fine is technically $0.
If you’re charged with forgery, your sentence and the lowest penalty you can receive will depend on the factors surrounding your case. If you have any prior convictions, then your penalty will be higher. If you have no prior convictions and you are generally compliant with authorities, then the judge is more likely to give you a lesser penalty.
The only way to give you a good idea of the penalties that you may be facing for your forgery charge is by knowing the details of your specific situation. By getting a free initial consultation with a forgery attorney in California, you can get a more comprehensive understanding of what sentence you might get.
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Is Forgery Bailable?
Yes, in many circumstances, forgery is bailable in California. Like many other white-collar crimes, even if the forgery is a felony, a defendant can be bailed out. According to the Los Angeles Court’s felony bail schedule, the presumptive bail for felony forgery is $20,000.
There is always a chance that the court could decide that your charge is not bailable, however. A crime could be considered not eligible for bail in one of two circumstances:
- The action was particularly heinous, usually a violent crime.
- The defendant is considered a “flight risk,” meaning they are considered likely to flee if they’re released from detention.
If your forgery crime is not eligible for bail, a good California forgery attorney may be able to change that. Sometimes all it takes is a skilled negotiator for the prosecutor or judge to give you a better deal.
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How Do You Get Forgery Charges Dropped?
The best way to get forgery charges dropped is with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. People who try to represent themselves in court often face insurmountable odds and harsher penalties. Having an attorney by your side is the best shot you have at getting your charges dropped.
Our lawyers treat every client differently, but there are some common defenses to forgery charges that they may use to get your sentence reduced or dropped entirely:
- That you never actually intended to commit fraud
- That you actually had consent to sign as somebody else
- That you were coerced into confessing to the crime
- That the police illegally obtained evidence
- That you were wrongly accused
When you meet with one of our forgery defense lawyers in California, they will let you know what can be done to get your charges dropped. Once you agree to hire them, they’ll get to work to make sure you get a fair chance.
Talk to a California Forgery Lawyer Today
A forgery charge can derail your life, especially if it ends up being a felony conviction. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you could be able to avoid harsh punishment. California forgery lawyers Simmrin Law Group want to help.
Call us or contact us online for a FREE consultation with our team. Don’t wait until it’s too late.