When you or your loved one is facing false filing of documents charges in California, it can be a traumatizing experience. You will not only face prison sentences and pay hefty fines, but you can lose your professional licenses. Also, these charges have a way of tarnishing your name.
You may not consider issues with paperwork as a serious crime, but California treats filing false documents as a felony offense. You will need to have the assistance of a trustworthy and experienced attorney. Our legal team at Long Beach Criminal Attorney will help prepare your defense and ensure you obtain a favorable outcome.
What is The Legal Definition of Filing False Documents in California?
The law under California PC 115 defines the crime of filing false documents as offering a false or forged document or instrument in a public office for filling, recording, or registration as genuine or legitimate. In California, you may file your legal documents in public offices for several reasons. These documents must be genuine and legitimate. Failing to file legitimate documents could lead to criminal charges.
Facing filing false documents charges does not necessarily involve forgery and filing these falsified documents to commit real estate fraud. For example, you can face filing false documents charges if you forge a signature or a public office stamp and then proceed to file this document in a California public office.
Elements of Filing False Documents in California
The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in court to ensure a conviction for filing false documents charges in California:
You provided an instrument for filling, registration, or recording at any California public office.
You caused someone to take a falsified document to any public office in California for filing, registering, or recording.
You knew the instrument was a forgery or false document when you took it for filing, registering, or recording.
The instrument was one that, if authentic or genuine, could be legally filed, recorded, or registered.
It is crucial to note that these falsified documents are not limited to real estate but can encompass documents such as pay stubs, among others. Additionally, when the prosecution files charges against you for filing false documents, all that matters is that you offered these instruments for filing. The public office does not necessarily have to file or record the documents for the court to convict you.
Understanding Terms Used In Filing False Documents Charges
Under penal code 115, an instrument is something like a document that the government requires to register or record in your name, which is also legally binding. When facing charges under PC 115, every instrument you submit to any public office in California for filing or recording will count for one charge. If you submit three falsified documents, you could face three counts of violating penal code 115.
Penal code 115 covers offenses committed by the person who submits the forgery and those who produce these forgeries so that another person can file.
In California, you can face charges for violating the law under PC 115 when you submit the following documents in any public office:
Falsified probational referrals,
Falsified property deeds.
Offering or Submitting A Document for filling, recording, or Registering
You will face filing false documents charges when you offer false documents to any public office in California for filing, registering, or recording.
Additionally, you will face these charges when you cause someone to submit forged or falsified documents for registering, filing, or recording.
Penal code 115 refers to documents that the government requires or the law permits. These documents can affect other people's or third parties' legal rights regarding government regulations and laws.
Examples of Violating Penal Code 115
There are several ways you could face filing false documents in California. Some examples demonstrate several ways you could violate penal code 115:
Mary has been the primary caregiver to her aging mother. She feels that her siblings are not chipping in and decides to change her mother's home into her name. Mary bypasses the available legal channels, forges her mother's property deed, and then files these documents under her name. When her siblings find out, they file charges against Mary for filing false documents.
Jim and Nancy are divorcing, but Jim does not want to sign the divorce papers. Nancy tires of the back and forth and decides to forge Jim's signature and file the paperwork. Jim can file charges against Nancy for filing falsified documents.
Legal Defenses Against Filing False Documents-PC 115 Charges
When you engage an experienced defense attorney, they will review your case and develop some defense strategies. They will use these defenses to ensure you obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Some defense strategies they can use include the following:
You were Unaware
Remember that one of the elements of violating penal code 115 is that you knew that the instrument you submitted for filing, registering, or recording in any public office was a forgery. You can show the court that you were unaware that the document you submitted was a forgery.
Sometimes, you may face these charges due to false accusations. Someone could falsely accuse you of submitting falsified documents when they seek revenge, or family drama, especially if you are going through a highly contested divorce or custody case due to property disputes.
You Did Not Submit The Documents to a Public Office
Another element that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that you submitted the falsified documents to any public office in California for filing, recording, or registration. You can use this defense to show the court that you did not submit a falsified document to any public office.
An example of a public office is the California DMV. Therefore, if you took a document to your private employer, that document could not be used as evidence against you in filing a false document case. However, you should note that if you submitted a falsified document in any other office apart from a public office in California, the prosecution could file charges against you under a different law.
Penalties for Violating California PC 115
Penal code 115 treats the offense of failing false documents as a felony, and a conviction for these charges could result in;
Fines not exceeding $10,000.
Imprisonment that goes up to three years in state prison.
Probation if you do not have a prior criminal record for violating California PC 115, you are not convicted for several counts of filing false documents, or the loss following your actions does not exceed $100,000.
You will face additional harsh sentencing where you will receive an additional state prison sentence that ranges from one year and can go up to five years. The court could also impose up to 500,000 in fines or double the amount you defrauded. You should note that the court will impose a fine that is on the higher side.
Some actions that could lead to sentence enhancements include the following:
In one criminal court proceeding, the court convicts you of several counts of white-collar offenses like embezzlement, one of which is a violation of penal code 115.
Your offense is part of ongoing criminal conduct.
When you commit the offense against the same person on several separate occasions.
When you commit the offense against several individuals.
When your actions defraud another person of more than $100,000.
Effects of Filing False Documents Conviction on Your Immigration Status
You should know that violating penal code 115 will hurt your immigration status. California labels Filing false documents as a crime against moral turpitude. If the court convicts you of this crime, you may be deported back to your country of origin and have your records marked as inadmissible.
Effects of Filing False Documents Conviction on Your Gun Rights
In California, the law does not allow convicted felons to purchase, own, or possess firearms. Since filing false documents is a felony offense, a conviction will lead to losing your gun rights.
Is it Possible to Have Your Records Expunged?
No, you can not file for record expungement in California as the law states that if a conviction results in imprisonment in state prison, these records can not be expunged. You should ensure you have the best criminal defense attorney in your corner, as a conviction for this crime will negatively impact your life.
Perjury Penal Code 118
You will face perjury charges when you give false information under oath. Remember, when you take an oath, you swear to give nothing but the truth, and if you go ahead and give false information, the prosecution could file perjury charges against you. Additionally, you will face perjury charges when you knowingly sign a document containing falsified information. Perjury is a felony offense, and a conviction could result in
Four years maximum imprisonment.
$10,000 in fines.
Loss of gun rights.
California PC 470-Forgery
You will violate penal code 470 when you knowingly alter, create, or use a written document to defraud another person. Therefore, if you are facing filing false documents charges, the prosecution could file forgery charges against you to go hand in hand with the other charges.
Forgery is a wobbler offense in California, and the prosecution could file either misdemeanor or felony charges against you depending on your criminal history and the circumstance surrounding your case.
Penalties for misdemeanor charges
A misdemeanor conviction could result in the following sentencing:
One-year county jail term.
Fines not exceeding $1,000.
Penalties for Felony Offense
A felony conviction could result in the following sentencing:
Fines not exceeding $10,000.
Serve up to three years in jail.
Possessing A Counterfeit Seal- PC 472
The offense of possessing a counterfeit seal involves using a government seal in committing forgery. To ensure the court convicts you, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you forged a government seal intending to defraud another person. If you used a government seal to falsify your documents, the prosecution could file possession of a counterfeit seal and file false document charges.
Possession of a counterfeit seal is a wobbler offense, and the prosecution could file misdemeanor or felony charges against you. If the court convicts you of misdemeanor charges, your sentencing could result in one-year imprisonment or probation or impose hefty fines on you.
On the other hand, if the court convicts you of felony charges, your imprisonment could go up to three years, or pay hefty fines.
California Penal Code 487-Grand Theft
You will face grand theft charges under penal code 487 when you unlawfully obtain another person's property worth over $950. Per the law, property in this context can be money, private land, or labor. Therefore, if you are facing false filing documents where the amount defrauded exceeds $950, the prosecution could also file grand theft charges against you. The prosecution will do this to ensure you receive maximum sentencing.
A grand theft conviction will result in the judge imposing hefty fines on you, or you could end up serving up to three years in jail.
Contact A Long Beach Criminal Attorney Near Me
When facing filing false document charges in California, you will need to hire an experienced and trustworthy criminal defense attorney. It will not matter whether you are innocent or not, as a conviction for violating Penal Code 115 could end up hurting your career choices. Since this is a crime of moral turpitude, a conviction will have far-reaching effects on your life.
Additionally, you will face the stigma that comes from an arrest and later on going to trial. At Long Beach Criminal attorney, our legal team will review your case, develop a defense strategy, advise you, and simultaneously represent you and ensure you obtain the best possible outcome. If you have any questions or want a consultation, call us today at 562-308-7807, and we will assist you.