White collar crimes are nothing to sneeze at. If you are facing criminal charges, how you handle your case could mean the difference between going home and spending years behind bars. This is particularly true in forgery and counterfeiting cases. California laws regarding these crimes are incredibly strict. With assistance, you do not have to let forgery or counterfeiting charges be your undoing.

Whether you face charges for forgery, counterfeiting or both, prosecuting attorneys have to establish certain elements in court in order to achieve a conviction in your case. If you plead guilty, agree to a plea deal or the court convicts you, you may have to face a number of penalties.

Elements needed in forgery and counterfeiting cases

First, let’s start by loosely defining forgery and counterfeiting. Forgery is signing another person’s name on a document for one’s own benefit. Counterfeiting is essentially the unauthorized and unlawful duplication of a document.

In order to prove that you committed the forgery for which you are accused, the prosecuting attorney would need to show the following elements in court:

  • The forged document — such as a contract, check or will
  • Evidence that suggests the signature is not authentic
  • Proof of intent to defraud

In order to prove that you committed a counterfeiting crime, prosecuting attorneys have to prove you unlawfully duplicated the item or items in question and you did so intentionally and for your own personal gain.

Penalties associated with both crimes

Penalty severity depends on whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony level charges, and what your criminal record says. If convicted on a misdemeanor forgery charge, you may be looking at up to one year in a county jail or prison; whereas, with a felony level charged, the penalty ranges anywhere from 16 months to three years in jail or prison. When it comes to counterfeiting, which is generally a felony offense, you might face two to four years in prison. Fines and probation are also possible penalties.

Defense options

There are only a couple of ways to fight forgery or counterfeiting charges. You can claim:

  • Your innocence of the crime
  • No intention to harm others

After review your case, legal counsel may be able to offer guidance on the best way to approach your defense in court.

Fighting forgery or counterfeiting charges can prove a difficult task. That does not mean that there is no hope in your case. With the right help, you can do everything possible to seek the best outcome possible.