CALCRIM No. 1902. Forgery of Handwriting or Seal (Pen. Code, § 470(b))
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
1902.Forgery of Handwriting or Seal (Pen. Code, § 470(b))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with forging [or
counterfeiting] the (handwriting/seal) of another person [in violation of
Penal Code section 470(b)].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant forged [or counterfeited] the (handwriting/seal) of
another person on <insert type[s] of document[s] that
could defraud; see discussion in Related Issues>;
2. When the defendant did that act, (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 [or counterfeited] 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 [or counterfeited] at least one of these documents and you all
agree on which document (he/she) forged [or counterfeited].]
<Sentencing factor for instruments specified in Penal Code section 473(b)>
[If you find the defendant guilty of forging [or counterfeiting] the
(handwriting/seal) of another person, 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 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.
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 470(b).
• Applies to Document Not Listed in Penal Code Section 470(d). People v.
Gaul-Alexander (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 735, 741-742 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 176].
• 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
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 statute if the defendant “forges the . . . handwriting of
CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD CALCRIM No. 1902
another.” (Pen. Code, 470(b).) However, not all writings are included within the
scope of this provision. (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].) “[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; see also Lewis v.
Superior Court, supra, 217 Cal.App.3d at pp. 398-399.)
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 (Matthew Bender).
CALCRIM No. 1902 CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD