Overview of Penal Code 476 PC
According to California Penal Code 476 PC, it is illegal to intentionally defraud another individual by using a check that is believed to be valid by the victim. This fraud offense can be achieved in a myriad of ways. One example includes producing a check that has been withdrawn from a fictitious banking institution. The fraudulent check must not even be created by the defendant in order to convict them of the crime; possessing or publishing a forged check for the sole purpose of defrauding others of a property is also illegal.
Therefore, there are several elements that must be proven to be true in order to convict a defendant with violating Penal Code 476 PC. Not only must the defendant have a fictitious check being used to defraud others of their assets, they must also present the check as an authentic one during their illegal operation. Passing a check off as a real one can be done either explicitly through dialogue, or implicitly through body language.
Penalties of Conviction
As with other forms of forgery and fraud, check fraud carries severe penalties. Given its status as a wobbler offense, the prosecution can move forward with either a misdemeanor or felony charge. If the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor, because the check in question was valued at lower than $950, then they face up to a year in a county jail facility. However, according to the context of the crime (and previous convictions), a defendant could instead be convicted of a felony charge. In this case, the perpetrator could possibly serve up to 3 years in a county jail facility.