CALCRIM No. 1903. Forgery by Altering or Falsifying Will or Other Legal Document (Pen. Code, § 470(c))
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
1903.Forgery by Altering or Falsifying Will or Other Legal
Document (Pen. Code, § 470(c))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with forgery committed by
(altering[,]/ corrupting[,]/ [or] falsifying) a legal document [in violation of
Penal Code section 470(c)].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant (altered[,]/ corrupted[,]/ [or] falsified) a document;
2. That document was [a record of] (a/an) (will[,]/ codicil[,]/
conveyance[,]/ [or] court judgment[,]/ [or] officer’s return to a
court’s process/ [or other] legal writing that the law accepts as
3. When the defendant (altered[,]/ [or] corrupted[,]/ [or] falsified)
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.]
[Someone alters a document if he or she adds to, erases, or changes a
part of the document that affects a legal, financial, or property right.]
[The People allege that the defendant (altered[,]/ [or] corrupted[,]/ [or]
falsified) 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 (altered[,]/ [or] corrupted[,]/ [or] falsified) at least one of
these documents and you all agree on which document (he/she)
(altered[,]/ [or] corrupted[,]/ [or] falsified).]
New January 2006
The court has a sua sponte duty to give this 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 prosecution alleges that the document was “corrupted,” the court may need to
draft a definition of this term based on the evidence.
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 470(c).
• 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.
• Alteration Defined. People v. Nesseth (1954) 127 Cal.App.2d 712, 718-720
[274 P.2d 479]; People v. Hall (1942) 55 Cal.App.2d 343, 352 [130 P.2d 733].
• Unanimity Instruction If Multiple Documents. People v. Sutherland (1993) 17
Cal.App.4th 602, 619, fn. 6 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 752].
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
• Attempted Forgery. Pen. Code, §§ 664, 470.
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. 1903 CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD