Check Fraud Laws

Under California Penal Code Section 476, a person commits check fraud when they intend to defraud the payee of the check and manifest that intent by representing the check to be genuine. Check fraud can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor check fraud is punishable by a year in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. Felony check fraud is punishable by a minimum of 16 months in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. Both would require the help of a skilled bondsman to get you out of jail.

Phony checks

A phony check is a fake check. Maybe the name of the person on the account is fictitious. The bank or bank account might not exist either. A phony blank check can be easily generated from a computer and printer by somebody who knows what they’re doing.

Altered checks

A check can be altered from its original form with the intent to defraud the payee. For example, a $50 check might be altered to make it a $500 check. A person might change the date on a post-dated check to a different date. The check number or routing number might also be altered. Checks are often altered by “washing” them. Mail snatchers can remove the pen ink on a check by using certain household chemicals. They’ll then rewrite the check to themselves.


An intent to defraud a third person out of money or property must be shown. Actual loss by them is irrelevant so long as the person presenting that check did so for an unlawful purpose.

Representing the check to be genuine

When a person makes or presents a check and represents that it’s genuine while trying to use it, they can be convicted of check fraud. You don’t have to verbally misrepresent that it’s genuine. Actions can speak louder than words. Direct or indirect conduct can be used against the person attempting to present the check.

The bail bond process

When the accused person is taken into custody, they’re transported to the jail in the county where the offense was alleged to be committed. The jail maintains a bond schedule detailing the amount of bond required to be paid relative to a crime in order to be released from custody. Most people simply don’t have the cash on hand to pay a bail bond, so they use the services of a bail bondsman or bail agent. In return for a cash premium, the bail bondsman will post the bail. Pursuant to California law, that premium can’t exceed 10 percent. The arrestee is then released from custody within an hour to four hours.

Bail bondsmen perform a valuable service in obtaining the release of arrestees in custody quickly and efficiently. Of course, the arrestee has the right to a bail bond hearing, and they’ll get that hearing if they don’t post bail. Until that hearing, they’ll be unable to attend to work and family obligations, and it’s entirely possible that a judge will set a bail bond at an amount significantly higher than that in the schedule. If somebody close to you has been arrested and is in custody, see a bail bondsman right away.
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