Forgery (Penal Code section 470)

In plain terms, forgery is faking someone else's signature or handwriting or falsifying a document without permission then passing it off as genuine with the intent to defraud.

Forgery can take many forms but some common examples of forgery are signing a check on someone else's checking account with his or her signature, forging a credit card receipt, counterfeiting or altering a driver license, and altering a will. The crucial elements to any forgery are that the forgery was done without permission and with an intent to defraud. The crime of forgery does not require that anyone is actually defrauded of that anyone suffer a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the forgery.

In California, forgery is a criminal offense under Penal Code section 470. Forgery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and can result in up to three years imprisonment. In defending a forgery case, time is often of the essence. It is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away if you have been charged with this crime.

I am an experienced criminal defense attorney with proven results and I promise to vigorously defend your rights to the full extent of the law. I have successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with forgery. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.


Forgery is a "wobbler" meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged and sentenced as a misdemeanor, the punishment is a maximum of one year in county jail and/or probation, fines, and potential restitution. If charged as a felony, the punishment is imprisonment for 16 months, two, or three years.