Check Fraud is a type of fraud crime in California, and is charged as a crime of forgery under California Penal Code §476. PC §476 prohibits creating a fake check or altering a check with the intent to defraud another.
Passing a bad check is a related crime, but it is different because it relates to writing and/or passing a check knowing that there's not enough money to pay the full amount of that check with fraudulent intent. It is punished under CA PC §476(a), and will be addressed later in this article.
Check fraud and passing bad checks can be charged either as felonies or misdemeanors, and the law surrounding these crimes is complicated and extensive. Speaking with a San Diego criminal lawyer experienced in check fraud issues is imperative to securing the best possible outcome in your case.
Elements of Check Fraud:
In order to be convicted of check fraud (forgery) under PC §476, the prosecutor must prove that:
1. You attempted to or did create, retain, or pass a fictitious or altered check;
a.Fictitious Checks: Checks that are counterfeit. Such checks include checks from non-existent banks, signed by a non-existent person, or having a made up account number.
b. Altered Checks: Changing the appearance or legal effect of a check by adding, erasing, or changing parts of a check. Such checks include checks with altered dollar amounts (adding a zero to $50 to make it $500), checks with amended dates (turning 1/2/2012 into 10/2/2012), or altering the name of the person to whom the check was made payable.
2. You knew that the check was fictitious and/or altered; and
3. You either attempted to use the check or did use the check, intending to commit a fraud.
a. Attempting to defraud means tricking another causing them to lose money, goods, services, or other things of value, or that causes damage to their legal, financial or property rights.
If you are charged with possession of a fictitious or altered check, the prosecutor must also prove that:
4. When you possessed the check you intended to pass it off as a real check.
The prosecutor can still charge a person with possession or attempting to pass a bad check even if nobody was actually defrauded or suffered any type of detriment. (CALCRIM No. 1935)
Mark is a long experienced San Diego theft lawyer who can help you avoid the pitfalls of the criminal justice system. Check fraud prosecutions involve complicated evidence which our firm routinely handles in getting the best results for our clients.
If you suffered a past arrest for check fraud or passing bad checks the San Diego defense attorney team of Gedulin & Greany can get your criminal record sealed and destroyed. We can work quickly to expunge your record and get your life bac on track. Our experience will ensure that you can confidently pursue your career and education without fear of background checks.
Consequences of Conviction:
Although it may not seem like a serious crime because typically nobody suffers physical injury in cases of check fraud, the crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are charged with Check Fraud, talk to a San Diego criminal attorney knowledgeable in check fraud to handle your case efficiently and effectively.
If convicted of misdemeanor Check Fraud, you may be punished by up to one year in county jail and a fine of $1,000. If convicted of felony Check Fraud, you may be punished by up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.