Criminal Law

1901. Forgery by Endorsement

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with forgery committed by endorsement.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant signed (the back of a check/(a/an) <insert type of negotiable instrument>) with (the name of the payee of that (check/ <insert type of negotiable instrument>)/ [or] the name of another person whose signature was required to (cash that check/negotiate that instrument));

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 defraud.

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.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

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 not required.)

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.


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 Cal.Rptr.2d 176].

Intent to Defraud Entity. Pen. Code, § 8.

Forgery by Endorsement. People v. Maldonado (1963) 221 Cal.App.2d 128, 133-134 [34 Cal.Rptr. 168]; In re Valencia (1927) 84 Cal.App. 26, 26 [259 P. 116].

Unanimity Instruction If Multiple Documents. People v. Sutherland (1993) 17 Cal.App.4th 602, 619, fn. 6 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 752].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, §§ 148, 159-168.

4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.02[2][a][i] (Matthew Bender).

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes Against Property, § 143.04[1][b], [c], [d] (Matthew Bender).

Lesser Included Offenses

Attempted Forgery. Pen. Code, §§ 664, 470.

Related Issues

See the Related Issues section of the Bench Notes for CALCRIM No. 1900, Forgery by False Signature.

(New January 2006)