Penal Code 476 PC – California Check Fraud Laws
Many people throughout my twenty-five-year career history have been charged with check fraud and I've had to defend them and obviously attempt to explain why they got themselves in a check fraud. Sometimes it's for innocent reasons, and sometimes it's for non-innocent reasons.
Another big thing I see is people taking checks from other people and then knowing or reasonably should know that the check is no good, and they go in and try to cash it at either their bank or the other person's bank or just a bank in general, and obviously, the check is no good. It's a stolen check. It's forged. It's fraudulent. It's manufactured.
Then that person is charged with check fraud and then the question becomes, did they know or reasonably know that that check was no good? Obviously, their explanation of where they got the check and why they're owed the check, and then questions related to the check and how they answer those questions, will obviously have a huge baring on whether the prosecutors are going to be able to make a check fraud case against them for a violation of Penal Code § 476.
Then of course, there are those people who are actually manufacturing a fraudulent check or stealing somebody else's check and then coming in with the check and attempting to cash the check and those people are also going to be charged with a violation of Penal Code §476 check fraud and they're going to be prosecuted accordingly.
One of the biggest factors as far as check fraud cases go in Los Angeles is, what is the value of the check? Is it a $200 check; it is a $2,000 check or is it a check that is much more valuable? Obviously, the more money that you're talking about attempting to be stolen, the more likely you're either going to be prosecuted federally or at the state level and the more punishment you're looking at. If the amount is huge, obviously, there are all sorts of enhancements and different things they can do against you and you're potentially looking at spending prison time – up to three years in prison for a felony check fraud violation.
One good thing thought is – in today's day and age – as long as it's not a huge check, it just involves money, a lot of times we can convince the state prosecutors in Los Angeles to give you a break – to give you some sort of a diversionary program so you can avoid the horrible stigma that comes along with a check fraud case in LA county and elsewhere. No one's going to hire you if you're convicted of check fraud. You can bet your bottom dollar on that because it is a crime of dishonesty and a lot of people think that you can't be trusted if you're kiting checks and you're violating Penal Code §476.
What Are Some Defenses To Penal Code 476?
One defense is, you didn't fraudulently do anything. Somebody gave you a check. You thought the check was good and you had no reason to believe there was any type of illegal activity going on, and therefore, you cannot be held responsible. Maybe you can prove that you're owed money by somebody. You have a valid invoice or contract and the person basically tricked you and gave you a fraudulent check.
Again, you deal with this concept of, did the person reasonably know that the check was no good. If they did not reasonably know that the check was no good, then they obviously shouldn't be charged with a violation of Penal Code §476 and the case should either be dismissed by way of a jury or sometimes I'm able to convince the prosecutors that this is not a check fraud case. The person didn't know the circumstances were not such that they knew that the money was not in the account.
A lot of times people are using their own identification. They're going into banks where they know there are cameras and they have a legitimate reason for trying to cash that check. They did legitimate work and they had no idea the person was involved in any type of fraudulent activity. So, really when it comes to these fraudulent check cases and violating Penal Code §476, you have to look at the surrounding circumstances.
We get you in, we sit down and go over everything and then I'm going to give you an honest opinion about what I think your chances are related to defending or me convincing the prosecutors to dismiss this check fraud case and get you out of this thing.
If they've got you – maybe you're down on your luck and you did something wrong, and they're going to be able to prove the case against you based on what you did, then obviously, we're going to try to either get a lesser charge or set it up so that we can get your case dismissed eventually – maybe you're going to have to some community service or other type of work and you're going to have to pay the money back, then we can get you back in the position you were before you were arrested and charged and even convicted for a check fraud case in Los Angeles.
So, really the ball is in our court. We get you. We sit down. We give you an idea of what you're looking at and what you can do to help me and what I'm going to do to help you and get you out of the criminal justice system was fast as possible and get this check fraud case behind you because it's a bad stigma that you don't want to be carrying around with you for the rest of your life.
Contact our Law Firm for Help
Bounced a check lately? You may be charged with the crime of check fraud if you knew of the lack of sufficient funds to cover the check amount.
At the Hedding Law Firm, our Los Angeles criminal lawyers have dealt with thousands of fraud cases and have the experience and qualifications to effectively help you.
To make, draw out, or deliver a check knowing that there are not sufficient funds to cover the amount the check was made out for is considered fraud. The prosecution has to only prove beyond a reasonable doubt the intent to fraud and the victim actually being defrauded is irrelevant. Check fraud charges can be stressful and our law firm have the skill and experience to help you get your matter under control. Contact our California criminal defense lawyers to review your case.