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Forgery & Check Fraud

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California Forgery & Check Attorneys

If you are facing forgery or check fraud charges in California, as defined by Penal Code section 470, you need to hire an experienced fraud defense attorney to make sure you get the best representation possible. At our Newport Beach and Beverly Hills law offices, you will find a former Deputy District Attorney with the courtroom skills necessary to aggressively defend your rights.

Penal Code section 470 is commonly known as forgery, but it covers a wide range of conduct, including:

* Signing the name of another person or a fake person to any form of check, receipt, promissory note, or contract, with the intent to defraud

* Counterfeits or forges the seal or handwriting of another person, with intent to defraud

* Alters or falsifies any will, conveyance, or other legal record, with intent to defraud

The key element in these charges is “intent to defraud”. This crime is a specific intent crime that requires the prosecution to prove that you intended to cheat someone.


Forgery is a wobbler. If it is charged as a felony, the maximum sentence is three years state prison. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is one year county jail. The District Attorney’s office will decide whether to charge a forgery as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the amount of money involved. An experienced fraud defense attorney will always seek to minimize your penalties and get you the best outcome possible. If you’re charged with a felony, we will do our best to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, we will do our best to ensure no jail time. No matter what your circumstances, our job is to make sure you get the lowest penalties possible.

Other Consequences

Not only can a forgery conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. Forgery crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which are crimes that relate to a person’s honesty. Having a forgery conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, accountants, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a forgery conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a theft conviction involves immigration consequences. Non-citizens who are permanent residents, with a green card, or temporary visitors, with a visa, can be denied admission or naturalization or even deported, with a forgery conviction on their record.

The Right Lawyer

There are defenses to this crime, but you need an intelligent and creative Los Angeles or Orange County Fraud attorney to put forth the best defense possible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if the victim was actually cheated – if the prosecution can you prove you intended to cheat them, that’s enough for a conviction. It also doesn’t matter whether you paid the victim back – you can still be charged with the crime. In fact, in most cases it’s better not to pay the victims back until after charges are filed. Fred Thiagarajah’s experience with forgery and fraud cases enables him to create case-specific strategies for your circumstances.

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing criminal forgery charges. Many people who face forgery charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of forgery, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need a former Deputy District Attorney like Fred Thiagarajah, who has the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for his clients. For an example of his work, please see his case results and read his client testimonials. With offices in Newport Beach, Beverly Hills and Riverside, Fred Thiagarajah has criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.

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