California Forgery Penalties

The modern world is full of situations where a signature or some other form of official document is required. Individuals write checks, sign mortgages, and conduct many other forms of business every day that require a signature. The trust surrounding signatures is a primary reason why forgery is such a serious crime. A forgery conviction can cause significant damage to an individual’s life and career in even the most minor situations.

What is forgery?

The California crime of forgery is the act of faking the signature of another person or faking a document. Forgery elements may appear in a number of ways. An individual might attempt to reproduce a signature on their own. They may create a document that was originally ascribed to or created by another person. Forgeries do not only apply to signatures and paper. They can be applicable in any situation where an item is ascribed to one person or group and then faked. One famous example of the many types of forgery elements is in the art world. Art galleries around the world are filled with thousands of forgeries of works by artists such as Rembrandt or Goya. Talented forgers replicate the original’s style and then sign their name or replicate their maker’s mark. These forged works often sell for the thousands or millions of dollars that the originals garner.


Penalties for forgery in the state of California can be significant depending on the nature and severity of the crime. According to California Penal Code 470 PC, an individual may be charged with a misdemeanor if they forge a document that is worth less than $950. A misdemeanor is punishable by a substantial fine and up to one year in the county jail. But a large number of first-time offenders receive less than this maximum. Forgeries for more than $950 can often lead to prison time of up to two or three years and a much heftier fine according to California Penal Code 470 PC. These charges can also do significant damage to a person’s livelihood and career outside of direct forgery crime consequences. Many individuals will be unable to secure gainful employment as a part of penalties for forgery. They will have a sustainable blot on their criminal background checks.

What to do

Anyone who faces charges of forgery in California needs to focus on their case and their future. They need to be careful with the actions they take and the way that they preserve their case. The first step for any individual arrested for forgery is to get out of jail as quickly as possible. They should go through the California bail and release process. Individuals have a much better chance of securing a favorable verdict if they are able to plan their case out of jail. Then, individuals need to hire an attorney in the field of the California crime of forgery. The attorney will help them collect evidence and present their case. Most importantly, an attorney can help an individual establish their thought process and what they were doing when they allegedly committed an illegal act. There are some circumstances where a forgery may be inadvertent and not deliberate. An attorney can help their client establish this motive and win either an acquittal or a significantly lighter sentence.


Charges of forgery in California are serious charges that must be dealt with seriously by anyone involved. Those who are accused need to secure release from jail and hire an attorney to properly face potential forgery crime consequences. They need to know their rights and know the steps that they must take in order to craft an effective case. Taking these careful steps will help ensure that individuals have the best chance possible of staying out of prison and eventually clearing their name.