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Filing False Documents Laws (PC 115) in California- IE-Criminal Defense

PC 115: Filing False Documents

Legal Definition: (a) “Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty..”

In order for an individual to be convicted of a violation of PC 115, it is imperative that the prosecution substantiates the following:

  • The individual either offered a false or forged document, or caused a false or forged document to be filed, recorded, or registered in a public office within the state of California.
  • At the time of committing the aforementioned act, the individual possessed knowledge of the document’s falsity or forgery.
  • The document in question, if genuine, possesses the legal eligibility for filing, registration, or recording.

As experienced experts in the field, we assure you that these criteria are essential for establishing the guilt of an individual accused under PC 115.

What does this mean?

Various forms of an “instrument” could include modified Restraining Orders, false fail bonds, and falsified probation work referrals, among others. It is crucial to note that each instrument filed constitutes a separate violation under PC 115. Therefore, if you introduced 5 false documents, you may face 5 charges under PC 115. It is worth emphasizing that this section not only penalizes individuals who engage in false filing but also holds accountable those who produce documents for another person to file falsely.

Moreover, one requirement is that you possess knowledge of the forgery when filing the document. If you produce and file the document, it becomes more challenging to argue that you were unaware of your actions. However, in a different scenario, if asked to file what you believed to be genuine but later discovered to be false, without prior knowledge, it could serve as a defense against this charge.


A violation under PC 115 is a felony offense only. If you are convicted of this crime, you could be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, 2 or 3 years in State Prison. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody for a conviction. You could also face financial penalties of up to a $10,000 fine. In addition to this, if you have a prior conviction under PC 115, then you are ineligible for Probation, which means you would be required to serve time in State Prison for a conviction. Also, if you are convicted of more than one count of a violation under PC 115, and the total loss to the victims is over $100,000, then you are also not eligible for Probation, and would serve time in State Prison for a conviction.

If the false or forged document affects the title to or places an encumbrance or mortgage on a single-family residence with up to four residential units, then you can face an additional fine of $75,000. If the loss you caused was over $65,000, you could face an additional enhancement adding up to 4 years to your possible exposure in State Prison.

This is not a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. It is also not a Sex Offense requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. However, because this crime involves an intent to defraud, it would likely affect people with Professional Licenses or people in Immigration proceedings.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights

As discussed earlier, it is crucial to be aware that in order to be convicted under this section, you must possess knowledge that the item you are filing is forged or false. Without such knowledge, you cannot be found guilty in this context. Let’s consider an example: if someone asks you to file a modified probation term, claiming it was agreed to and signed off by their probation officer, but it is later determined that they deceived you and the filed item was created solely for their own convenience, without the consent of probation. Unless you are explicitly informed that the document in question is a forgery, you would have no reason to suspect anything and would simply be assisting a friend by filing the probation modification on their behalf.

If the District Attorney fails to demonstrate your knowledge of the falsity of the filed item, there would be insufficient evidence to establish your guilt in this crime. It is essential to understand that your expertise, experience, and authority play a significant role in establishing your trustworthiness in this matter.

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Being convicted under PC 115 can usher in dire ramifications, encompassing hefty fines, obligatory jail time, and even the threat of deportation in light of Immigration Law. Nestled in Ontario, our reputed law firm boasts an assembly of adept attorneys who have honed their skills specifically in defending allegations related to offering counterfeit documents as per PC 115. Our distinguished track record resonates with the numerous clients we’ve assiduously navigated past these intricate legal challenges.

To kickstart your defense journey, benefit from our complimentary initial consultation. Our relentless team, on standby 24/7, is primed to dispel your uncertainties and field your inquiries. For a defense anchored in trust and expertise, reach out to the Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-281-0391.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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