The crime of forgery involves the making or passing of a false document without authority and with the intent to defraud. Forgery crimes of a wide variety can be found in California Penal Code Sections 470 to 483.5.The California forgery law prohibits making, altering, forging or counterfeiting specified documents. These documents include but are not limited to:
- Checks, bonds, bank bills, drafts or notes
- Cashier's checks, traveler's checks or money orders
- Controller's warrants
- Bills of exchange, promissory notes, orders or bond assignments
- Stock certificates
- Due bills for payment of money or property or receipts for money or property
- Lottery tickets or shares purporting to be issued under the California State Lottery Act of 1984
- Trading stamps or powers of attorney
- Certificates of ownership or other documents showing ownership of a vehicle or undocumented vessel
- Court orders or judgments
- Any letters of attorney, or other powers to receive money, or to receive or transfer certificates of shares of stock or annuities
- Acknowledgements of a notary public.
In California, forgery is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Punishment for misdemeanor forgery is a maximum of one year in county jail, whereas a felony forgery charge is punishable by up to a maximum of three years in state prison.