CALCRIM No. 1900. Forgery by False Signature (Pen. Code, § 470(a))
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
(i) Forging or Passing Document
1900.Forgery by False Signature (Pen. Code, § 470(a))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with forgery committed by
signing a false signature [in violation of Penal Code section 470(a)].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant signed (someone else’s name/ [or] a false name) to
[a/an] <insert type[s] of document[s] from Pen. Code,
2. The defendant did not have authority to sign that name;
3. The defendant knew that (he/she) did not have that authority;
4. When the defendant signed the document, (he/she) intended to
Someone intends to defraud if he or she intends to deceive another
person either to cause a loss of (money[,]/ [or] goods[,]/ [or] services[,]/
[or] something [else] of value), or to cause damage to, a legal, financial,
or property right.
[For the purpose of this instruction, a person includes (a governmental
agency/a corporation/a business/an association/the body politic).]
[It is not necessary that anyone actually be defrauded or actually suffer
a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the defendant’s acts.]
[The People allege that the defendant forged the following documents:
<insert description of each document when multiple items
alleged>. You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree
that the People have proved that the defendant forged at least one of
these documents and you all agree on which document (he/she) forged.]
<Sentencing factor for instruments specified in Penal Code section 473(b)>
[If you find the defendant guilty of forgery by false signature, you must
then decide whether the value of the (check/bond/bank bill/
note/cashier’s check/traveler’s check/money order) was more than $950.
If you have a reasonable doubt whether the value of the
(check/bond/bank bill/note/cashier’s check/traveler’s check/money order)
has a value of more than $950, you must find this allegation has not
New January 2006; Revised August 2015, March 2019
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction defining the elements of the
If the prosecution alleges under a single count that the defendant forged multiple
documents, the court has a sua sponte duty to instruct on unanimity. (See People v.
Sutherland (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 602, 619, fn. 6 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 752].) Give the
last bracketed paragraph, inserting the items alleged. (See also Bench Notes to
CALCRIM No. 3500, Unanimity, discussing when instruction on unanimity is and is
Give the bracketed sentence that begins with “For the purpose of this instruction” if
the evidence shows an intent to defraud an entity or association rather than a natural
person. (Pen. Code, § 8.)
Give the bracketed sentence that begins with “It is not necessary” if the evidence
shows that the defendant did not succeed in defrauding anyone. (People v. Morgan
(1956) 140 Cal.App.2d 796, 801 [296 P.2d 75].)
If the prosecution also alleges that the defendant passed or attempted to pass the
same document, give CALCRIM No. 1906, Forging and Passing or Attempting to
Pass: Two Theories in One Count.
If the charged crime involves an instrument listed in Penal Code section 473(b), use
the bracketed language beginning “If you find the defendant guilty . . .”
When the People allege the defendant has a prior conviction for an offense listed in
Penal Code section 667(e)(2)(C)(iv) or for an offense requiring registration pursuant
to subdivision (c) of section 290, give CALCRIM No. 3100, Prior Conviction:
Nonbifurcated Trial or CALCRIM No. 3101, Prior Conviction: Bifurcated Trial.
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 470(a).
• Signature Not Authorized - Element of Offense. People v. Hidalgo (1933) 128
Cal.App. 703, 707 [18 P.2d 391]; People v. Maioli (1933) 135 Cal.App. 205, 207
[26 P.2d 871].
• Intent to Defraud. People v. Pugh (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 66, 72 [127
Cal.Rptr.2d 770]; People v. Gaul-Alexander (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 735, 745 [38
• Intent to Defraud Entity. Pen. Code, § 8.
• Unanimity Instruction If Multiple Documents. People v. Sutherland (1993) 17
CALCRIM No. 1900 CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD
Cal.App.4th 602, 619, fn. 6 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 752].
• Required Additional Findings. Pen. Code, § 473(b).
• Scope of Pen. Code, §473(b). People v. Gonzales (2018) 6 Cal.5th 44 [237
Cal.Rptr.3d 193, 424 P.3d 280].
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
Attempted Forgery. Pen. Code, §§ 664, 470.
Documents Not Specifically Listed in Penal Code Section 470(d)
A document not specifically listed in Penal Code section 470(d) may still come
within the scope of the forgery statute if the defendant “forges the . . . handwriting
of another.” (Pen. Code, § 470(b).) “[A] writing not within those listed may fall
under the part of section 470 covering a person who ‘counterfeits or forges the . . .
handwriting of another’ if, on its face, the writing could possibly defraud anyone.
[Citations.] The false writing must be something which will have the effect of
defrauding one who acts upon it as genuine.” (People v. Gaul-Alexander (1995) 32
Cal.App.4th 735, 741-742 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 176].) The document must affect an
identifiable legal, monetary, or property right. (Id. at p. 743; Lewis v. Superior Court
(1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 379, 398-399 [265 Cal.Rptr. 855] [campaign letter with false
signature of President Reagan could not be basis of forgery charge].) See
CALCRIM No. 1902, Forgery of Handwriting or Seal.
A defendant who forges the name of another on a check may be charged under
either Penal Code section 470 or section 476, or both. (People v. Hawkins (1961)
196 Cal.App.2d 832, 838 [17 Cal.Rptr. 66]; People v. Pearson (1957) 151
Cal.App.2d 583, 586 [311 P.2d 927].) However, the defendant may not be convicted
of and sentenced on both charges for the same conduct. (Pen. Code, § 654; People
v. Hawkins,supra, 196 Cal.App.2d at pp. 839-840 [one count ordered dismissed];
see also CALCRIM No. 3516, Multiple Counts: Alternative Charges for One
Event - Dual Conviction Prohibited.)
Credit Card Fraud
A defendant who forges the name of another on a credit card sales slip may be
charged under either Penal Code section 470 or section 484f, or both. (People v.
Cobb (1971) 15 Cal.App.3d 1, 4.) However, the defendant may not be convicted
and sentenced on both charges for the same conduct. (Pen. Code, § 654; see also
CALCRIM No. 3516, Multiple Counts: Alternative Charges for One Event - Dual
Return of Property
Two cases have held that the defendant may present evidence that he or she
returned some or all of the property in an effort to demonstrate that he or she did
not originally intend to defraud. (People v. Katzman (1968) 258 Cal.App.2d 777,
790 [66 Cal.Rptr. 319], disapproved on other grounds in Rhinehart v. Municipal
CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD CALCRIM No. 1900
Court (1984) 35 Cal.3d 772, 780 fn. 11 [200 Cal.Rptr. 916, 677 P.2d 1206]; People
v. Braver (1964) 229 Cal.App.2d 303, 307-308 [40 Cal.Rptr. 142].) However, other
cases have held, based on the particular facts of the cases, that such evidence was
not admissible. (People v. Parker (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 500, 510 [89 Cal.Rptr. 815]
[evidence that the defendant made full restitution following arrest not relevant];
People v. Wing (1973) 32 Cal.App.3d 197, 202 [107 Cal.Rptr. 836] [evidence of
restitution not relevant where defendant falsely signed the name of another to a
check knowing he had no authority to do so].) If such evidence is presented, the
court may give CALCRIM No. 1862, Return of Property Not a Defense to Theft.
(People v. Katzman,supra, 258 Cal.App.2d at p. 791.) In addition, in People v.
Katzman,supra, 258 Cal.App.2d at p. 792, the court held that, on request, the
defense may be entitled to a pinpoint instruction that evidence of restitution may be
relevant to determining if the defendant intended to defraud. If the court concludes
that such an instruction is appropriate, the court may add the following language to
the beginning of CALCRIM No. 1862, Return of Property Not a Defense to Theft:
If the defendant returned or offered to return [some or all of the] property
obtained, that conduct may show (he/she) did not intend to defraud. If you
conclude that the defendant returned or offered to return [some or all of the]
property, it is up to you to decide the meaning and importance of that conduct.
Inducing Mentally Ill Person to Sign Document
In People v. Looney (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 242, 248 [22 Cal.Rptr.3d 502], the
court held that the defendants could not be prosecuted for forgery where the
evidence showed that the defendants induced a mentally ill person to sign legal
documents transferring property to them. The court concluded that, because the
defendants had accurately represented the nature of the documents to the mentally
ill person and had not altered the documents after he signed, they did not commit
2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Crimes Against
Property §§ 165, 168-177.
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85,
Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.02[a][i] (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes
Against Property, § 143.04[a], [d][a] (Matthew Bender).
CALCRIM No. 1900 CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD