Check Fraud in San Diego
Fraud is one of the most common types of white-collar crimes in California. The phrase white-collar crime is used to describe a widespread range of criminal actions that may cause financial loss to a victim. Check fraud involves the unlawful use of checks to acquire or borrow funds that you do not actually or constructively possess, nor are you entitled to such funds. A lot of times check fraud charges result from simple misunderstandings which lead people to believe that the charge is easy to resolve. However, the reality is that these charges are quite complicated and require an experienced criminal defense attorney to avoid any unfair consequences. To make sure you get the best legal scenario possible, you should call the Monder Law Group today at (619) 405-0063.
Understanding Penal Code Section 476
In consideration of the seriousness of check fraud or auto insurance fraud California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 476. Under this law, “Any person who makes, passes, utters, or publishes, with the 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 Penal Code Section 186.9 is guilty of forgery".
- The suggestion of something as a true fact, which is known to be untrue.
- The positive assertion of a known untrue fact that makes the person believe it to be true.
- The suppression of a true fact.
- Promise made without any intention of performing it.
- Any act to deceive.
- Any breach of duty without intent to fraud, but that results in gaining an advantage.
- Any act or omission that the law specially declares to be fraudulent, without respect to actual fraud.
Purposely presenting a fake or altered check with the goal of deceiving another person or entity out of money, property, or services.
Any national or state bank, banking association, commercial, industrial or private bank, trust company or thrift institution, savings and loan association, or building and loan association organized under the law.
Basically, to convict someone of California PC 476, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- The defendant either attempted to or made, wrote, passed, possessed;
- A fake, altered, or forged check;
- Knowing that it was fictitious or altered;
- Intending to defraud a person or entity by representing that the check was genuine.
- In order to obtain cash, property or services.
A check that was drawn from a non-existent bank or drawn from a non-existent person, or you attempt to withdraw from a bank account that no longer exists.
A check that has been added to, erased, or changed in part making it appear different from its original form and causing it to have a different legal effect.
A check that has been made or delivered for the payment of money, while knowing that the maker or drawer does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the bank for the payment of that check.
Check Fraud May Be Filed as a Misdemeanor or a Felony
Check fraud is considered a forgery crime and forgery crimes are considered wobbler offenses. Wobbler offenses are those that the prosecution can choose to file either as a misdemeanor or a felony charge. The issuing attorney at the District Attorney’s office will look at the following factors to determine whether to charge check fraud as a misdemeanor or felony:
- The value of the forged check;
- The defendant’s criminal history.
Proposition 47 is a voter initiative established in 2014 that reduces nonviolent, less serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Unless the defendant has prior convictions for murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes or unlawful sale of a firearm. For instance, check fraud will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor if the value of the forged check is $950 or less and the defendant is not also convicted of identity theft under California Penal Code §530.5 or has serious or violent priors.
Penalties for Check Fraud
Misdemeanor Check Fraud
If you are convicted of misdemeanor check fraud in California you may face:
1) A sentence of up to one year in county jai;
2) A fine of up $1,000.
Felony Check Fraud
If you are convicted of felony check fraud in California, you may face:
1) A sentence of up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison;
2) A fine of up to $10,000.
These are some of the criminal defenses that we can assert on your behalf to help you overcome the charges for check fraud filed against you:
- Accident; you did not intend to defraud.
- Consent; you had permission to make alteration.
- Mistaken Identity; you yourself are victim of fraud.
There are many strategies for different situations, the key to a successful outcome in a check fraud case is to take control of your case early on!
If you are charged with any type of check fraud, especially if you are facing a felony charges, the best thing you could do is find an experienced criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction. Attorney Vik Monder is a skilled criminal defense attorney who practices check fraud criminal defense in San Diego. He has great contacts with police investigators and prosecutors in this community. For the best legal defense, call him now so he can put his knowledge of the local judicial system at your disposal.