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

I. 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..”

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 115, the prosecution must show that:

  1. You either offered a false or forged document or cause a false or forged document to be filed, recorded or registered in a public office in California
  2. When you did this act, you knew that the document was false or forged;

AND

  1. The document was one, if genuine, could be legally filed, registered, or recorded.

II. What does this mean?


Examples of what an “instrument” means could be things such as a modified Restraining Order, false fail bonds, and falsified probation work referrals, to name a few. Also, if you file more than one instrument, each instrument filed is a separate and distinct violation under PC 115. So in other words, if you introduced 5 false documents, you could be charged 5 times with a violation under PC 115. Notice this section covers not only people who the false filing, but also penalizes people who produce a document for another person to falsely file.

However, another requirement is that you have knowledge that the item being filed was forged. If you produce the document and file it, it’s harder to show you didn’t know what you were doing. However, in a different scenario, if you were asked to file what you thought was genuine and it turned out to be false, and you didn’t know, it could act as a defense to this charge.

III. Penalties


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.

IV. Common Defenses


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

As discussed above, you must have knowledge that the item you are filing is forged or false in order to be convicted under this section. If you lack knowledge that what you are filing is false, then you cannot be found guilty here. An example would be if a person asked you to file a modified probation term that they told you was agreed to and signed off by their own probation officer. Later, it is determined that the friend lied to you, and the item filed was something they created to make their life on probation easier, and nothing that was agreed to by probation was in that document. Unless you’re told that the document is a forgery, you would not know anything other than you’re doing a favor for a friend by filing the probation modification for them.

If the DA could not show your knowledge of the item you filed as being false, then there would be insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of the crime.

V. Call Today


A conviction under PC 115 can lead to devastating fines, mandatory prison time, and a mandatory deportation under Immigration Law. Our PC 115 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving offering false documents to be filed under PC 115. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

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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