Check fraud is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses and financial institutions today. It is regulated by Penal Code 476 PC and it is considered a criminal offense in California. With the advanced computer technologies, it becomes easier for fraudsters to manipulate checks in a way that consumers/possessors are not able to identify those frauds. However, law is strictly defines the legal elements of this type of fraud, i.e. when a person can be guilty of check fraud. Below are the facts that the prosecutor must prove at first in order to convict the defendant of this offense:

  1. The defendant made, passed or possessed or attempted to make or pass a fake or an altered check;
  2. The defendant had an intention to defraud a person/entity by representing that the check was genuine.


As a violation of Penal Code 476 PC, here are some examples/situations applied by fraudsters:

  • Generating a false check;
  • Forging the name of the payer;
  • Changing the currency on the check, etc.


If a person is convicted of using or attempting to use of a false or an altered check, s/he will be punished under California forgery laws. Forgery is what is known as a California wobbler, which is a crime that the prosecutor can file either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the a) case facts; and b) the defendant’s criminal history. Hence, if the defendant is convicted of the California misdemeanor charges, s/he faces up to one year in a county jail and a maximum fine of up to $1,000. If the prosecution files felony charges, the defendant carries a) either probation and up to one year in a county jail; or b) 16 months or two or three years in California state prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

Legal Defenses

 If you are a victim of check fraud in California, the Law Offices of Hovanes Margarian can provide you with free case consultation and further assistance in the offence. You can just simply dial 818-990-0418 to reach the lawyer Hovanes Margarian, who is always welcome to represent clients in the court leading them to a success.