Fraudulent acts are offenses that are almost always driven by financial gain, or an attempt to escape an undesirable situation. Here is an overview of the most common types of fraud-related offenses committed in the state of California.
Check Fraud [CA PC §476]
California statutes provide that a person who attempts to, or commissions to write, pass or use a fraudulent check for his or her own financial gain is guilty of committing check fraud.
In order for one to be prosecuted of this crime, a prosecutor must clearly and cohesively prove all of the following elements:
- The defendant made an attempt to or commissioned the act of use an altered or fraudulent check to receive money or purchase property
- The defendant had prior knowledge that the check was fraudulent or altered
- The defendant intended to commit check fraud (meaning, he or she intended to pass the check as genuine)
For example, let's say a man's dog ends up attacking the neighbor's dog. Instead of going to court, the man promises his neighbor that he will compensate for all the expenses needed to nurse her dog back to health, so he writes her a check for $500. Still angered by the events that transpired, the neighbor decides to add a 0 to the end of the check's balance, making it $5,000. The woman could be charged with check fraud because she illegally altered the check she received.
California Check Fraud Penalties
This offense could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the factors of a case. Past criminal history, especially in relation to fraud, will be considered to determine if a charge will consist of a misdemeanor or a felony.
If charged with a misdemeanor, a person may spend up to one year in jail. If charged as a felony, the defendant could spend up to three years in prison.
Credit/Debit Fraud [CA PC §484]
The state of California makes it illegal for a person to do the following actions:
- Alter a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud
- Design a counterfeit with the intent to defraud
- Forge the signature of someone else (or make up a random name) on a credit card payment document with the intent to defraud.
A person is intending to defraud when the person they are committing the act against suffers a loss as a result of his or her actions.
California Credit/Debit Fraud Penalties
The penalties for credit/debit fraud heavily depend on the nature of the commission of a crime.
If the money taken exceeded an amount of $950, this is considered grand theft. As a result, one may face up to three years in a state prison and a fine up to $1,000. Forgery carries the same penalties.
If the money stolen is totaled to less than $950, this is considered petty theft. It is punishable by up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Experienced California Fraud Attorneys
If you have been accused of fraud, it's in your best interest to consult with knowledgeable criminal defense attorney Harris B. Taback. Call his office at (415) 241-1400 or contact him online for a free consultation.