October 21, 2013 By Wallin & Klarich

Have you been charged with check fraud in Newport Beach? The experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are able and willing to help you.

According to the National Check Fraud Center, check fraud and counterfeiting are among the fastest growing problems affecting the nation’s financial system, producing estimated annual losses of $10 billion and losses continue to rise at an alarming rate annually.1 As technology advances, individuals have found more ways to commit check fraud, thereby making it one of the most prominent forms of fraud in the country.

The Bad Check Restitution Program was instituted in Orange County to obtain restitution for the victims of check loss without adding to the financial burden of the criminal justice system.2 Some first time bad check offenders are given the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution by attending a mandatory, eight-hour intervention class, in addition to paying restitution — which allows the program to work without any cost to the taxpayers.

What is Check Fraud?


California Penal Code sec. 476 governs check fraud in California. Check fraud occurs when a person makes, passes, utters, or publishes an altered legal writing with the intent to defraud.3

There are certain elements that must be met in order for an accused to be convicted of check fraud. To be convicted, the prosecutor must show that:

  • You possessed, used, or attempted to use, a false or altered check for the payment of money or property; and
  • You knew that the check was false or altered; and
  • You had the intent to defraud.

Each element must be individually proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to reach a conviction.

What are the Different Types of Check Fraud in California?

There are many types of check fraud such as forgery, counterfeiting and alteration, paperhanging, and check kiting.

  • Forgery: forgery typically takes place when an employee of a business issues a check without proper authorization.
  • Counterfeiting: counterfeiting can either mean producing a check or even just duplicating a check with advanced color photocopiers.
  • Alteration: alteration can be done by using chemicals or solvents to remove or modify handwriting and information on the check.
  • Paperhanging: paperhanging is when someone purposely writes a check on a closed account.
  • Check kiting: check kiting is opening accounts at two or more institutions and using “the float time” of available funds to create fraudulent balances.

Can I go to Jail for Check Fraud in Orange County?

Check fraud is considered a “wobbler” in California, which means that prosecutors can file a fraud charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in county jail or a maximum $1,000 in fines. If you are convicted of a felony, you could face up to three years behind bars or a maximum of $10,000 in fines.

Finding an experienced attorney is crucial when being charged with check fraud. There are many legal defenses that apply and the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are trained and willing to use their expertise to help you with your check fraud case. We have offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville, San Diego, San Bernardino and West Covina.

Call us at (888) 280-6839 for a free consultation today. We will be there when you call.

1. [Check Fraud Prevention]

2. [“F.A.Q.” Orange County DA ]

3. [California Penal Code Sections 470 – 483.5]

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