California Forgery Lawyers Answer Frequently Asked Questions on PC 402
If you are accused of forgery crimes, you probably have many questions and very few answers. While each case is unique, many of our forgery lawyers’ clients have similar questions. Most questions center around the actual criminal process and punishment.
Can a forgery lawyer reduce my charges?
Under California Penal Code section 473[i], a forgery crime is a “wobbler” crime and can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Even if it is already charged as a felony forgery crime, an experienced forgery lawyer can work to reduce it to a misdemeanor.
Whether a “wobbler” is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony is a decision made by the prosecutor. He will look at the circumstances surrounding your case and charge what he thinks he can prove.
But rarely does he have the full story. At this stage, an experienced forgery lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and try to convince the prosecutor to reduce or drop your charges.
Can a forgery lawyer keep me out of jail?
As with any case, an experienced forgery lawyer will try their best to keep you out of jail. Whether or not you go to jail depends on two things: your charges and your county.
As discussed on our punishment page, a misdemeanor forgery conviction can carry a one-year jail sentence. A felony forgery conviction can be up to a three-year jail sentence. Our forgery lawyers at Wallin and Klarich will work hard to keep the sentence as low as possible.
Depending on the county in which you are charged, you might be eligible for a work-release program under Penal Code section 4024.2[ii]. In these programs, community service substitutes for a jail sentence. If your county allows them, we will do our best to get you into a program.
Can these charges stay off my record?
Bad check fraud is technically a type of forgery, but most counties in California treat it much more leniently than they actually can. Most counties use a diversion program that, if successfully completed under the guidance of your forgery lawyer, will allow you to avoid jail time.
These diversion programs are offered most often at the plea bargaining stage. If the program accepts you, you will have to complete certain conditions set up by the county. If you successfully complete everything they demand of you, the conviction will not go on your record.
Each county has their own conditions that they require of the defendant. Typically, they involve financial planning courses and paying back the value of the bad checks.
If I returned the altered check before I cashed it, is that a valid defense to the forgery charge?
Unfortunately this is not a defense to the charge. The crime is committed when you altered the check, if you had the required intent at the time you did so. The fact returned the check can be an important fact in “mitigation” and could help you receive a probationary sentence.
Where can I find an experienced forgery lawyer?
Forgery charges can be devastating and the punishment can be severe. With over 40 years of experience, the forgery lawyers at Wallin & Klarich are here to help you. Our experienced team will review your case and take the steps necessary to defend you. We have offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina. Call us today at 877-4-NO-JAIL or fill out our online intake form for immediate assistance. We will get through this together.
[i] Information on Penal Code 473 retrieved from http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/473.html
[ii] Information on Penal Code 4024.2 retrieved from http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/4024.2.html