Check Fraud

If you or your loved one has been charged with check fraud in the State of California, you should immediately contact Orange County Check Fraud lawyer, William Weinberg. Mr. Weinberg has years of experience defending individuals charged with check fraud.

What is Check Fraud Under California Penal Code §476?

Fraud comes in many different varieties. The type of fraud we are focusing on today is check fraud under California Penal Code §476. Check fraud is being charged more often today than ever before thanks to the sophistication and availability of check printing software that allows users to print and create checks without ever having to step foot into a bank.

In its simplest form, check fraud in California involves writing, passing on, or altering a check with intent to defraud another person.

California Penal Code §476 defines check fraud as:

“Every person who makes, passes, utters, or publishes, with intent to defraud any other person, or who, with the like intent, attempts to pass, utter, or publish, or who has in his or her possession, with like intent to utter, pass, or publish, any fictitious or altered bill, note, or check, purporting to be the bill, note, or check, or other instrument in writing for the payment of money or property of any real or fictitious financial institution as defined in Section 186.9 is guilty of forgery.”

The most commonly charged form of check fraud that’s charged in California involves signing or endorsing a check without the payor’s permission. Other cases involve situations where an individual receives a check for $400 and then adds a zero to cash it in for $4,000 from the bank. We will discuss common types of check fraud in the section below.

In California, check fraud is a serious crime that can result in a felony conviction and prison time. For the best defense, contact Orange County Check Fraud Lawyer, William Weinberg. Mr. Weinberg will review the details of your case and will formulate an effective defense strategy for you.

Examples of Check Fraud

Here are a couple of common examples of check fraud: (1) Creating fake checks using check making software, (2) signing a check without the authority to do so, (3) altering the dollar amount of a check, (4) altering the payee of a check, (5) altering the date of a check, (6) altering the payor of a check, (7) altering the routing or account number of a check, or (8) writing or passing on a check, knowing that the account connected to the check has an insufficient balance to cover the check.

The California check fraud statute applies to both real checks that have been altered in some way and to checks that are completely fake.

For example, in California it is illegal to alter real checks, and it’s also illegal to make, pass on, or use fake checks that are drawn upon fake banks, using the names of nonexistent people. Such checks are typically made with special computer software and are illegal in California.

In the past, check fraud had always been charged as a felony, but with a skilled check fraud attorney, your charges may be reduced or completely dropped.

Showing Intent in a Check Fraud Case

To prove check fraud, the prosecution must show that the defendant had the intent to defraud at the time of making or passing on the check to another person. Oftentimes, the prosecution lacks direct evidence of intent and must resort to circumstantial evidence to prove that a person intended to defraud another.

For example, if a defendant changes the amount on a check from $100 to $1000, his intent can be inferred from the act of changing the numbers. If the facts of your case support it, Mr. Weinberg may be able to argue that you thought the payor intended to write a check for $1000 and mistakenly wrote one hundred.

Also, take for example a defendant who passes on a check that he knows the other party cannot cash. In such a situation, the prosecution will have to show that the defendant had the intent to defraud at the time he passed on the check. This can be difficult to show, especially if there are some unforeseen circumstances that caused the check to bounce. For the best results, contact Check Fraud Attorney, Mr. Weinberg in Orange County for a consultation.

Penalties for Check Fraud in California

In California, check fraud can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Typically, if the amount of the check is $950 or less, the prosecution charges the defendant with a misdemeanor. If convicted of misdemeanor check fraud, a defendant will be charged a $1,000 fine and may be imprisoned for a maximum of one year in county jail.

On the other hand, if the amount of the check exceeds $950, a defendant can be charged with a felony offense. If convicted of felony check fraud, a defendant can be charged with a $10,000 fine and a maximum penalty of three years in state prison can be imposed.

Defending a Check Fraud Case

Since the prosecution must show an intent to defraud, William Weinberg may be able to defend your case by showing that you did not have the intent defraud.

For example, Mr. Weinberg may be able to defend your case on the grounds that you had honestly thought the amount on the check was the correct amount owed to you or that you had the authority to sign the check you passed on.

Check Fraud Attorney, William Weinberg in Orange County may be able to assist you by proving that you did not have the intent defraud and the charges against you should therefore be dropped, or at least, reduced.

Another defense for your check fraud case may be that you had the consent of the check owner or payor to make changes to the check in question. If your attorney can make this showing, the prosecution will not be able to convict you with check fraud in California.

A third defense to your check fraud case may be that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to show that you, the defendant, are not the person who made the changes and/or alteration to the check in question. If the factors of your case support this showing, Mr. Weinberg may be able to defend you on these grounds.

A fourth defense that may be used for a defendant who passed on a check knowing that his account had an insufficient balance that cannot cover the check, is that the insufficiency of funds was due to unforeseen circumstances and not necessarily the defendant’s intent to defraud.

There may be more defenses that are applicable to your specific case. The only way to know the best defense is for you to contact Mr. William Weinberg and to schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your specific case.

If you have been charged with check fraud in California, contact Check Fraud Attorney, Mr. Weinberg in Orange County. He has excellent knowledge of the California check fraud statute and is guaranteed to provide you with the best defense to your check fraud charges. You can reach him at 1-949-474-8008.

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