CALCRIM No. 1904. Forgery by Falsifying, Altering, or Counterfeiting Document (Pen. Code, § 470(d))
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
1904.Forgery by Falsifying, Altering, or Counterfeiting Document
(Pen. Code, § 470(d))
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with forgery committed by
(falsely making[,]/ [or] altering[,]/ [or] forging[,]/ [or] counterfeiting) a
document [in violation of Penal Code section 470(d)].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant (falsely made[,]/ [or] altered[,]/ [or] forged[,]/ [or]
counterfeited) (a/an) <insert type[s] of document[s]
from Pen. Code, § 470(d)>;
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.]
[A person 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 (falsely made[,]/ [or] altered[,]/ [or]
forged[,]/ [or] counterfeited) the following documents:
<insert description of each document when multiple items alleged>. You
may not find the defendant guilty unless you all agree that the People
have proved that the defendant (falsely made[,]/ [or] altered[,]/ [or]
forged[,]/ [or] counterfeited) at least one of these documents and you all
agree on which document (he/she) (falsely made[,]/ [or] altered[,]/ [or]
forged[,]/ [or] counterfeited).]
<Sentencing factor for instruments specified in Penal Code section 473(b)>
[If you find the defendant guilty of forgery by (falsifying[,]/[or]
altering[,]/[or] counterfeiting), 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 been proved.]
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(d).
• 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].
• 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.
Penal Code section 470(d) provides that every person who, with the intent to
defraud, falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, utters, publishes, passes or
CALCRIM No. 1904 CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD
attempts or offers to pass, as true and genuine, any of the items specified in
subdivision (d), knowing the same to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited, is
guilty of forgery. Penal Code section 470(d), as amended by Statutes 2005, ch. 295
(A.B. 361), became effective January 1, 2006. The amendment added “or falsifies
the acknowledgment of any notary public or any notary public who issues an
acknowledgment knowing it to be false” after the list of specified items. The
committee believes that the added language has introduced ambiguities. The phrase
“falsifies the acknowledgment of any notary public” seems to refer back to “person”
at the beginning of subdivision (d), but it’s not clear whether this falsification must
also be done with the intent to defraud in order to be forgery. If so, why was
“acknowledgement of a notary public,” which is parallel in kind to the other
documents and instruments listed in subdivision (d), not simply added to the list of
items in subdivision (d)? With respect to the provisions regarding a notary public
who issues an acknowledgment knowing it to be false, it could be that the
Legislature intended the meaning to be that “[e]very person who . . . falsifies the
acknowledgment of . . . any notary public who issues an acknowledgment knowing
it to be false” is guilty of forgery. However, this interpretation makes the provision
superfluous, as the amendment separately makes it forgery to falsify the
acknowledgment of any notary public. Also, if a notary issues a false
acknowledgment, it seems unlikely that it would be further falsified by a defendant
who is not the notary, but who presumably sought and obtained the false
acknowledgement. Alternatively, the Legislature could have intended to make a
notary’s issuance of false acknowledgment an act of forgery on the part of the
notary. The Legislative Counsel’s Digest of Assembly Bill 361 states that the bill
makes it a “misdemeanor for a notary public to willfully fail to perform the required
duties of a notary public” and makes “other related changes.” The bill amended a
number of sections of the Civil Code and the Government Code as well as Penal
Code section 470. The committee awaits clarification by the Legislature or the
courts to enable judges to better interpret the newly-added provisions to Penal Code
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).
CRIMINAL WRITINGS AND FRAUD CALCRIM No. 1904