Check Fraud in Aliso Viejo
Check fraud refers to the unlawful use of checks to actually or attempt to write, make, pass, or possess a fake, altered, or forged check in order to obtain cash, property, or services with fraudulent intent. It consists of knowing that the check was fake or altered and intending to defraud someone by representing the check as genuine. This includes check kiting, paper hanging, forgery, counterfeiting, or alteration.
Under California Penal Code 476 PC (Check Fraud Laws), the city of Aliso Viejo criminalizes the illegal writing, ‘passing’ or using of a fraudulent check, with the intention of obtaining something of value. ‘Passing’ a document means using words or conduct to represent to someone that a check is genuine. Check fraud requires that the document is passed as genuine when it, in fact, is not. An example of check fraud would be someone creating fictitious checks and attempting to cash one in. The account would come up as closed, and that person would be arrested.
In order to prove check fraud, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- The defendant made, possessed, passed, used or attempted to use a fake or altered check, (or a similar legal document) for the payment of money or property.
- The suspect knew that the check was altered or false
- The suspect had the intention to defraud when they did (i) and (ii) above
- The suspect intended to pass the check as a genuine document
The specific circumstances of the case and the suspect’s criminal history will determine the exact charge(s) brought against the suspect by the prosecution.
These circumstances will also determine whether the charge brought forward is a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Some of the related offenses and charges related to check fraud include:
- California Penal Code Section 476A PC for passing or writing a ‘bad check’
- California Penal Code Section 484 PC for petty theft
- California Penal Code Section 487 PC for grand theft
- California Penal Code Section 470 PC for forgery
If a defendant is found guilty, penalties for check fraud include; prison time of up to 1-year for a misdemeanor charge and up to 3 years for a felony charge. Additionally, costly fines will also be a part of the penalty.
Common legal defenses for check fraud include the argument that there was no fraudulent intent. For example, you may have made a fictitious check for yourself for $50.00, but if you do not possess the intent to use it or cash it in, you are not guilty. Similarly, you could have passed an altered or fake check, but failed to realize that you were doing so. For example, someone may have given you a fake check to pay you. If you attempt to cash it in, you are unaware of the fraud, and are therefore, not guilty.
If you find yourself charged with check fraud, having a competent fraud defense attorney on your side to navigate the different charges that can be brought against you is very important.
Contact Johnson Criminal Law Group to defend you against these charges right away.