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Forgery Law & Defense

California Penal Code 470(a)

Information on the crime of forgery is found at California penal code Section 470(a).

PC 470 Forgery Laws

PC 470(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 a fictitious person to any of the of the items listed in subdivision (d) is guilty of forgery.

PC 470(b) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, counterfeits or forges the seal or handwriting of another is guilty of forgery.

PC 470(c) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, alters, corrupts, or falsifies any record or 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 forgery.

PC 470(d) Every person who, with the intent to defraud, falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, utters, publishes, passes or attempts of 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:

Common Forged Items include

  • Check
  • Bank Note
  • Traveler's Check
  • Money Order
  • Bond
  • Bill for Payment
  • Passage Ticket
  • Gift Certificates
  • Debt Release Note
  • Bank Bill
  • Receipt
  • Promissory Note
  • Assignment
  • Deed
  • Lottery Ticket
  • Notary Stamp
  • Stock Certificate
  • Account Receipt

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of forgery, the district attorney must prove:

  • The defendant signed someone else's name to a document of legal significance
  • The defendant knew that he or she did not have the authority to sign someone else's name
  • The defendant signed the document with the intent to defraud

Sentence & Punishment for PC 470(a)

Forgery charged under PC 470(a) may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. When forgery is charged as a misdemeanor the defendant could face up to a year in jail. When forgery is charged as a felony the defendant could face up to three years in prison.

Forgery is not considered a serious or violent crime under California's Three Strikes Law. If sentenced to jail or prison the defendant may earn up to fifty percent (50%) credit off of his or her sentence for good behavior.

A probation sentence, without jail or prison, may available for some defendant's depending several factors including the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Collateral Punishment for PC 470(a) 

Immigration and professional licensing issues: Forgery is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means the crime is inherently wrong. All misdemeanor and felony crimes will have a negative impact on immigration and professional licensing concerns but crimes of moral turpitude carry especially negative consequences in those areas of law.

Firearm Prohibition

Felony convictions, including any felony conviction of PC 470(a) will prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.  

In addition to any jail sentence, criminal convictions for forgery can lead to other severe consequences such as: fines, lawsuits, employment loss, insurance rate increase (vehicle, professional, life), CPS consequences, and more.

Defenses to Forgery Crimes PC 470(a)

The most common defenses to a forgery crime include, but are not limited to: insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant intended to defraud another person, Mistake of fact as to what the defendant believed he or she was signing, coerced confession, entrapment, intoxication, and more.

If you have been charged with forgery, or Penal Code 470(a), contact our criminal defenses lawyers today to learn your rights and options without delay. Consultations are provided at no cost and our criminal defense attorneys are available 24/7 to answer all of your questions.

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Penal Code 470(a): Forgery

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Forgery Law & Defense PC 470(a)

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Crimes related to Forgery, PC 470(a):

  • Forgery of handwriting or seal PC 470(b)
  • Forgery by altering or falsifying a will or other legal document PC 470(c)
  • Forgery by altering or counterfeiting a document PC 470(d)
  • Attempted Forgery PC 664/470(a) or 470(d)
  • Forgery by Endorsement PC 470(a)

California Forgery Laws & Defense PC 470(a)


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