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Penal Code Section 470 States:

“(a) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, knowing that he or she has no authority to do so, signs the name of another person or of a fictitious person to any of the items listed in subdivision (d) is guilty of forgery.

(b) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, counterfeits or forges the seal or handwriting of another is guilty of forgery.

(c) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record of any will, codicil, conveyance, or other instrument, the record of which is by law evidence, or any record of any judgment of a court or the return of any officer to any process of any court, is guilty of forgery.

(d) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, utters, publishes, passes or attempts or offers to pass, as true and genuine, any of the following items, knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, is guilty of forgery: any check, bond, bank bill, or note, cashier’s check, traveler’s check, money order, post note, draft, any controller’s warrant for the payment of money at the Treasury, county order or warrant, or request for the payment of money, receipt for money or goods, bill of exchange, promissory note, order, or any assignment of any bond, writing obligatory, or other contract for money or other property, contract, due bill for payment of money or property, receipt for money or property, passage ticket, lottery ticket or share purporting to be issued under the California State Lottery Act of 1984, trading stamp, power of attorney, certificate of ownership or other document evidencing ownership of a vehicle or undocumented vessel, or any certificate of any share, right, or interest in the stock of any corporation or association, or the delivery of goods or chattels of any kind, or for the delivery of any instrument of writing, or acquittance, release or discharge of any debt, account, suit, action, demand, or any other thing, real or personal, or any transfer or assurance of money, certificate of shares of stock, goods, chattels, or other property whatever, or any letter of attorney, or other power to receive money, or to receive or transfer certificates of shares of stock or annuities, or to let, lease, dispose of, alien, or convey any goods, chattels, lands, or tenements, or other estate, real or personal, or falsifies the acknowledgment of any notary public, or any notary public who issues an acknowledgment knowing it to be false; or any matter described in subdivision (b).”

Forgery 1

Forgery is a type of fraud that may be categorized as either a white collar crime or a theft crime.

It is a common misconception that forgery occurs when someone simply signs another’s name. In fact, the crime of forgery is much more complex. Forgery occurs when a person…

  • intends to commit a fraud and
  • signs someone else’s name without authorization,
  • counterfeits or recreates the seal or handwriting of another without prior approval,
  • alters, corrupts, or falsifies specific legal written documents, such as a will, a check, or court record, and/or
  • falsely makes, alters, recreates, counterfeits, utters, or publishes any document or item relating to money, stocks, a sale, transfer, or exchange of goods or property, any written document relating to how one intends to dispose of his/her property upon death, a legal document other than a will or court record (a power of attorney, for example), or a notarized document.


FORGERY: What the Prosecutor MUST Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Jury Instruction 1900. Forgery by False Signature

The defendant is charged [in Count ] with forgery committed by signing a false signature [in violation of Penal Code section 470(a)].

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

1. The defendant signed (someone else’s name/ [or] a false name) to [a/an] <insert type[s] of document[s] from Pen. Code, § 470(d)>;

2. The defendant did not have authority to sign that name;

3. The defendant knew that (he/she) did not have that authority;


4. When the defendant signed the document, (he/she) intended to defraud.

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.][The People allege that the defendant forged the following documents: <insert description of each document when multiple items alleged>

You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant forged at least one of these documents and you all agree on which document (he/she) forged.]

California forgery law only applies to acts that prejudice, damage, or defraud another out of money, an interest in property, or any other thing in which they have legally enforceable interest.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Forgery, contact John J. Stanley & Associates at (818) 769-5200 for your free consultation.

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