Forgery happens in many forms. It could be a simple act of filing false insurance claims, writing a will without authorization, or dealing with fraudulent checks. While forgery isn’t a violent crime, it might be considered an offense of moral turpitude.

The forgery laws in California seek to punish convicts of this crime seriously. If you are accused falsely, you might end up paying a huge price for an offense you did not commit. An Orange County criminal defense attorney could explain the seriousness of the crime, and help you find ways to lessen the penalties or avoid them.

What are the Elements of Forgery Crime in California

Forgery has a precise definition in California, which might differ from how other states define the offense. Penal Code Sections 470-483.5 spell out the elements of this offense, and an Orange County white-collar crime lawyer can break it down for you.

The prosecution team in Orange County need evidence of

  • The written instrument
  • You were making, materially altering, or falsely signing the written instrument
  • You were acting with an intention to commit a fraud

Notably, all the above factors must be fulfilled for the judge to convict you of forgery. Most prosecutors struggle to prove fraudulent intentions, and many cases have been thrown on these grounds.

What Determines the Seriousness of Forgery Penalties in California?

Being a wobbler offense, the penalties for forgery vary depending on the case’s facts. But forgery is charged as a felony in most cases. The only time forgery is charged as a misdemeanor is when:

  • The instrument’s worth is $950 or below
  • The forged document is a money order, check, or a similar instrument

The prosecution sometimes makes the mistake of charging accused persons with a felony when they should be charged with a misdemeanor. An Orange County white-collar crime lawyer can quickly check the police report and dispute any existing errors in your case.

When is Forgery Punished as a Misdemeanor?

The penalties for a forgery misdemeanor might be less than those imposed on a forgery felony. However, they are equally life-changing and can significantly impact your life negatively. If convicted, you risk:

  • Being locked up in a county jail for up to a year
  • Summary probation
  • Fines of up to $1,000

It is easier to ask the judge for lenience, especially if you don’t have a prior criminal record. An Orange County attorney can help you negotiate for the best possible outcome.

How is Forgery Punished as a Felony?

Forgery, as a felony, attracts more extended periods in confinement and higher amounts of fines. A conviction could come with:

  • Imprisonment for up to 3 years
  • Formal probation
  • Fines of up to $10,000

A Laguna Hills forgery defense attorney can help accused persons pursue a dismissal, acquittal, or reduced charges depending on the circumstances. But the possibilities of each case are determined after the first consultation. So, we encourage you to book your first consultation.

How Much Time Does the Prosecution Have to Charge Me for Forgery?

Forgery is also subject to the statute of limitations, like many other offenses in California. However, the period varies depending on the type of charges the prosecution intends to bring against you. For instance, the time limit for misdemeanors differs from what is set for felonies.

Misdemeanor cases can only be filed within one year from the date of the forgery. On the other hand, felony cases should be filed within four years from the offense’s discovery or commitment.

Can a Forgery Conviction Affect My Immigration Status?

Crimes of moral turpitude usually affect a non-citizen’s immigration status. So, if the judge concludes that your actions amount to that, you might have to deal with negative immigration status, such as judicial deportation. You could be:

  • Marked as inadmissible
  • Deported

If you can avoid a conviction altogether, you will remain in the United States and travel in and out as planned. Consult with an attorney in Orange County to find out how best you can beat your forgery charges.

Can I Get Expungement After a Forgery Conviction?

While a forgery conviction can taint your criminal record, the history can be deleted and erased. You will be safe from the many hardships experienced by people with criminal histories. Consider applying for expungement after either:

  • Successfully completing a jail term
  • Successfully completing probation

So, if your attorney has done their best, but a forgery conviction becomes unavoidable, remember that you can clear the records later.

Will I Lose My Gun Rights if I’m Convicted in California?

Your ability to retain your gun rights depends on the seriousness of your conviction. According to the California laws, a person convicted of a felony cannot:

  • Own a gun
  • Possess a gun

Therefore, your gun rights might not be affected if you are convicted of a forgery misdemeanor. If your gun rights are so vital to you, your Orange County lawyer can negotiate for reduced charges.

How Can I Escape Forgery Penalties?

The penalties following a forgery conviction are pretty harsh. Luckily, you can avoid them by investing in a good defense. You could argue that:

  • It was a coerced confession
  • They are false accusations
  • You had no intentions to commit a fraud

Alternatively, an Orange County white-collar crime lawyer can help you explore diversion programs. It could help you escape jail, and instead:

  • Take a financial skills class
  • Pay any collection fees
  • Pay restitution

Upon completing a diversion program, the conviction will be erased from your history and cannot be used in future criminal cases. Speak to an experienced lawyer in Orange County as soon as you are charged, and they will advise you on the best way out.

Defend Yourself With Skilled Legal Representation

If you are accused and charged with forgery, your freedom could be at stake. Huge fines await you whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. However, better outcomes might be achieved if you fight these charges legally.

The lawyers at the SoCal Law Network are renowned for their honest and aggressive representation in Orange County, CA. You don’t have to suffer alone. Call us today and we will ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.