Check Fraud

Using a bad check can lead to being charged with forgery in California. A bad check can be a check with insufficient funds, stolen, forged, etc. The crime of check fraud can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the amount in question exceeds $450.00, the prosecution can charge you with a felony. A felony conviction can result in up to three years of imprisonment in state prison.

If the amount in question does not exceed $450.00, the prosecution can only charge you with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction can result in imprisonment for up to one year in county jail.

Any conviction can result in fines and fees as well as restitution being ordered.

There are many defenses to a check fraud charge. It is important to consult with an experienced Southern California forgery attorney to know your rights and defenses.

Punishment

If you are facing a check fraud crime, you will be charged with forgery. A conviction will depend on whether the crime is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.

Under California Penal Code 473, a felony conviction will result in up to three years imprisonment. A felony will be charged if the amount in question is over $450.00. Anything lower will be charged as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction will result in up to one year in jail.

Elements

Making, Passing, etc., Fictitious Check or Bill (Pen. Code, § 476)

The defendant is charged with (possessing/making/passing/using or attempt to pass or use a false or altered check/bill/note/or other legal writing for the payment of money or property in violation of Penal Code 476.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. The defendant (possessed[,]/ [or] made[,]/ [or] passed[,]/ [or] used[,]/ [or] attempted to pass or use) (a/an) (false/ [or] altered) (check[,]/ [or] bill[,]/ [or] note[,]/ [or other] legal writing for the payment of money or property);
  2. The defendant knew that the document was (false/ [or] altered); [AND]
  3. When the defendant (possessed[,]/ [or] made[,]/ [or] passed[,]/ [or] used[,]/ [or] attempted to pass or use) the document, (he/she) intended to defraud(;/.)

<Give element 4 only when possession charged.>

AND

4. When the defendant possessed the document, (he/she) intended to pass or use the document as genuine.]

Someone intends to defraud if he or she intends to deceive another person either to cause a loss of (money[,]/ [or] goods[,]/ [or] services[,]/ [or] something [else] of value), or to cause damage to, a legal, financial, or property right.

[For the purpose of this instruction, a person includes (a governmental agency/a corporation/a business/an association/the body politic).]

[It is not necessary that anyone actually be defrauded or actually suffer a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the defendant’s acts.]

[A person alters a document if he or she adds to, erases, or changes a part of the document that affects a legal, financial, or property right.]

A person (passes[,]/ [or] uses[,]/ [or] attempts to pass or use) a document if he or she represents to someone that the document is genuine. The representation may be made by words or conduct and may be either direct or indirect.

[The People allege that the defendant (possessed[,]/ [or] made[,]/ [or] passed[,]/ [or] used[,]/ [or] attempted to pass or use) the following documents: <insert description of each document when multiple items alleged>. You may not find the defendant guilty unless you all agree that the

People have proved that the defendant (possessed[,]/ [or] made[,]/ [or] passed[,]/ [or] used[,]/ [or] attempted to pass or use) at least one document that was (fictitious/ [or] altered) and you all agree on which document (he/she) (possessed[,]/ [or] made[,]/[or] passed[,]/ [or] used[,]/ [or] attempted to pass or use).]