Articles Posted in Check Fraud

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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.

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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)

check fraud CaliforniaIn 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.

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About Wallin & Klarich


Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.