Under California Penal Code Section 476, it is a criminal offense to fraudulently create, write, pass or possess a fake or forged check with the intent of obtaining something of value in exchange for this check. This is a crime broadly referred to as Check Fraud – PC 476.
Check fraud is not taken lightly in California. If you are accused of this crime, you face severe penalties, which could include jail time and a felony conviction on your criminal record. Let’s take a look at how check fraud charges are handled in California criminal courts.
What Needs to Be Proved to Convict You of Check Fraud (PC 476)
In order to convict you of check fraud under California Penal Code Section 476(a), the prosecution must prove certain elements of the crime were present beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of the crime the prosecution must prove are that:
- You knowingly wrote the bad check, and
- You wrote the bad check with the intent to deceive someone out of property or money
Like most theft related allegations, intent to defraud is the key to the prosecution’s case. Often, people are accused of this crime because they possessed or attempted to pass fake checks without even knowing it. This may occur when they are paid via a fake check and then try to cash it in at the bank.
PC 467a requires that you had the intent to defraud in order to be convicted of this crime. Therefore, a true lack of knowledge that the check was fake would negate criminal liability. Additionally, consent to alter the check in question can be a defense to an accusation of check fraud.
Is Check Fraud a Felony in California?
Check fraud is a wobbler offense, which means that you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of your case. If you write a bad check in order to defraud someone out of more than $450, you could be charged with felony check fraud. A felony conviction carries a sentence of up to three years in county jail.
If you wrote a bad check to defraud someone out of $450 or less in value, you could be charged with misdemeanor check fraud. This crime is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail.
Contact a Check Fraud Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love has been arrested for check fraud in California, you should speak with an experienced check fraud attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing check fraud charges for over 30 years. We know that facing criminal charges can affect you for the rest of your life, and we are dedicated to working tirelessly on your behalf to provide you with the best defense possible.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich check fraud attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free, no obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.