Everyone has seen at least one more movie where a person forges a document to help achieve success in a mission, i.e. any of the James Bond or Ocean's 11 movies, where forgery is seen as a means to an end of a big dramatic pay off. At first glance, forgery might seem like a minor crime, as depicted in movies, where someone creates a fake driver's license. Yet, there are various forms and degrees of forgery. Forgery is much more serious in reality without all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and can have serious consequences.
Penal Code 470 defines forgery as: Every person who, with intent to defraud, signs the name of another person or a fictitious person on any official documents is guilty of forgery. The person could also be guilty if there was intent to defraud by creating, altering, corrupting, or falsifying any official document. Official documents can be anything from a check, bond, or bank bill to a driver's license, and medical records amongst others. There are also various degrees of forgery that would range from a misdemeanor to a felony. Any person with the intent to create a medical record by forgery would be guilty of a misdemeanor; as opposed to a person who processes a check (real or fictitious) with the intent to defraud a person could be guilty of felony forgery. If convicted of misdemeanor forgery the crime is punishable by incarceration of up to one year in jail. If convicted of a felony then the punishment is up to three years.
There are defenses in which the person may be excused of forgery such as:
1. Lack of intent. Lack of intent generally means the person was mistaken and did not intend to sign or create an official document, and the intent was based on a misunderstanding.
2. A document not depriving anyone of their legal right is a document that doesn't deprive someone else of their money or property. Creating a fake resume is not a document that deprives someone else of their rights. Compare this to creating a fake check that deprives the government, business or person of money.
3. The person was falsely accused and had no specific intent or action associated with the forgery.
Ultimately, the issue depends on the intent of the person creating the document and what kind of official document is alleged to have had forgery pertain. Forgery can be confusing to many people so if you have been cited, detained or arrested for any form of forgery and need clarification, it is imperative that you receive competent legal advice immediately.
After being cited, detained or arrested call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian at (714) 336-5303 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney who can give you clear and concise information about your rights.