So-called “white collar” crimes have been on the books since the 1930s, but the rising cost of such crimes on the corporate world and on society in general has resulted in escalated efforts to prosecute people who engage in criminal activity in order to defraud and steal from individuals, businesses, and the government. While these aggressive tactics are perhaps understandable, the government can sometimes be overzealous to the point of accusing innocent people of white collar crimes that they did not commit or of “throwing the book” at an alleged offender who may have a legitimate defense. People who have been accused of white collar crimes such as forgery, embezzlement, or other wrongdoing should talk to a qualified defense attorney as soon as they learn that they are being investigated or accused of a crime. If you find yourself in this situation, San Bernardino and Riverside forgery defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings can help.
Under California Penal Code § 470, the crime of forgery occurs when someone falsifies a signature or counterfeits a document in order to commit fraud. There are many scenarios under which a person may be accused of forgery, such as signing someone else’s name on a check and attempting to cash it, counterfeiting a stock certificate or a property deed with the intent of selling such property to an unsuspecting person, or altering a lottery ticket with the intention of fraudulently receiving funds that the defendant is not legally due.Possible Punishments and Defenses Against the Crime of Forgery
Forgery is only a crime if the defendant acted with the specific intent to defraud another person or an institution such as a bank. Simply signing someone else’s name on a document is not necessarily a crime if the defendant did not intend to obtain money, goods, or services illegally in so doing. In addition to this factual defense, a forgery defense attorney in Riverside or San Bernardino may consider raising a constitutional defense, such as an illegal search or seizure, a confession obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination, or a statement taken without a lawyer present after the defendant had made a request for counsel. To assert an effective defense, it is important that a person accused of forgery or another white collar crime like identity theft speak to an attorney as soon as possible so that a complete and thorough investigation can be made into the circumstances leading to the defendant’s arrest or the seizure of any evidence that the State of California (or the federal government) will use at trial.
The burden of proof is on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If a San Bernardino or Riverside forgery defense attorney is able to successfully move for the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, it may be much more difficult for the State to prove its case, leading to a possible dismissal of the case or a reduction in the charges. A conviction of a forgery offense can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the amount of money at issue in the alleged fraud, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and other factors. Any criminal conviction can have negative repercussions on a defendant’s future, including difficulty finding work or housing, making it serve as a permanent, very embarrassing reminder of a bad decision.Discuss Your Situation with a Forgery Defense Lawyer in Riverside or San Bernardino
If you have been charged with a crime, a private criminal defense attorney will be able to provide your case with the attention that it deserves more easily than a public defender with a massive caseload. To contact the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings about your forgery or other white collar crime case, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We also handle a wide array of other criminal cases, including domestic violence, felony DUI, sex offenses, and drug offenses. Remember, if you have been charged with forgery or another crime, always talk to a lawyer before talking to the police.