Filing False or Forged Documents in California
A lot of different legal procedures require submitting and filing documents with public offices in California. When you file a document, you must do so knowing that you have presented a legitimate document. Filing a document that you know is false, is a punishable crime.
The Elements of the Crime
According to California Penal Code 115, it is illegal to file, register, or record a false or forged document with a California public office. When a document is falsely filed, it can often also result in other charges, especially if the filing included committing other crimes (such as fraud). In order for a person to be found guilty of this crime, a prosecutor must prove several elements in court. First, the defendant must have filed or caused a document to be filed that was, in fact, false or forged. The document could have been either filed or registered with a public office. One of the most important elements that must be proven is that the defendant filed, registered or recorded the document with the knowledge that the document was false or forged. Furthermore, the document must have been one that the defendant could submit to a public office.
The definition of a document is broad and can include many different kinds of documents. The document must have either been material or one that the public office would rely on.
Punishments for the Crime
California Penal Code 115 is a serious offense and a guilty conviction can result in severe consequences. This specific crime is a felony and can be multiplied depending on how many false and/or forged documents were filed. Typically, penalties for this crime include multiple years in a California state prison. If there were multiple false documents, the defendant can face extra years in prison for each document. Furthermore, additional penalties can be applied if the false document filing related to another crime, as well.