Check Fraud
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What Are The Legal Definitions And Charges Of Drafting Or Passing A Fake Or Fraudulent Check?

Although quite a lot has changed when it comes to checks in recent years, the reality is that they remain one of the most widely used ways to make payments. Yet, one of the biggest problems that come with their uses is the fact that check fraud is incredibly widespread and is done by many people frequently. 

There are so many different types of check fraud that it’s impossible to find out exactly how much is getting lost or how many people are affected. This article will carefully look at how California defines check fraud and what charges one can get if caught using one. 

Check Fraud As Defined by California Law

According to Penal Code 476 PC, in the state of California, committing a check fraud is defined as an offense. For a person to get a conviction under this code section, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The convicted has made, possessed, passed, used, or attempted to use a false, altered or fictitious check or bill in order to pay for property.
  • The defendant knew that the document was altered or false, and when tried to use it or used it, there was an intent to defraud.

If a defendant is charged with possession of a false check, then the prosecutor will also have to prove that:

  • When the defendant possessed the fraudulent check
  • There was intent to either pass or use it as genuine 

Any check that is “fictitious or fake” is one that is not real or legal, that includes the following types of checks:

  • A check was drawn from a bank that does not exist.
  • A check endorsed from a person that does not exist.

People often question this stature on the meaning of:

  • Use, pass, and alter.
  • Intent to defraud 
What is Intent to Defraud? 

In order for a person to be found guilty under this statute, they have to act with intent to defraud. That means that they should have the intent to deceive or trick another person. However, it’s not necessary for a conviction for anyone to actually be defrauded or suffer a loss because of the defendant’s actions. All that matters is fraudulent intent.

Pass, Alter, or Use

Under this section, a person has to pass, use or attempt to use a document that they present as real to someone else. The representation may be done with words or conduct and may be either direct or indirect. 

A person alters a document whenever they do one of the following things: 

  • Adds information to it.
  • Erases something on it.
  • Change a part of it. 
What are the Penalties for violating Penal Code 476? 

Anyone who violates Penal Code 478 is found guilty of forgery. Under California law, this violation is a wobbler offense, which means that a prosecutor has the choice to either categorize it as a misdemeanor or a felony based upon:

  • The criminal history of the convicted.
  • The facts of the case.

If the crime gets a misdemeanor charge, then its punishable by:

  • Up to a year in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1000. 

If it gets charged as a felony, the offense can be punished by:

  • Up to three years in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

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