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California Penal Code Section 115 PC: Filing A False Document

Douglas Parker

California Penal Code Section 115 PC addresses a critical but often overlooked aspect of legal documentation – the deliberate filing of false documents. Individuals convicted under this statute face severe repercussions, emphasizing the importance of integrity and accuracy in legal paperwork. Given the complexity of legal documents, errors can occur; however, when the act is intentional, it escalates to fraudulent activity punishable under the law.

Section 115 PC primarily targets those attempting to deceive public offices or authorities by forging or altering documents meant to be filed with state agencies [1]. This could include deeds, court orders, wills, or any official record. Such actions not only undermine the judicial system but can also lead to significant personal or financial harm for other parties who rely on the authenticity of these documents.

What Is Penal Code 115 in California?

California Penal Code Section 115 targets a serious form of misconduct: the intentional filing of false documents with public offices. This deceitful practice is treated as a felony [2] due to its potential to inflict substantial harm on individuals, businesses, and the integrity of public records. The law underlines California’s strict stance against fraudulent actions involving official documents meant to be filed, registered, or recorded in any state agency.

Key Elements of Penal Code 115

For a conviction under Penal Code 115, the prosecution must prove several key elements:

  1. The Document Was False: It must be established that the document in question was forged, altered, or otherwise falsified.
  2. Knowledge of Falsity: The defendant knowingly filed, registered, or recorded the document, fully aware of its falsehood.
  3. Intent to Defraud: There must be a clear intent to deceive or commit fraud by submitting the false document.

Understanding these elements is crucial, as each plays a pivotal role in the legal outcome of the case. Merely filing a document that was incorrect without knowledge of its falsity, for instance, does not meet the threshold required for a conviction under this section.

What Documents Are Covered?

Penite 115 encompasses a wide range of documents. Common examples include:

  • Real estate deeds
  • Birth, marriage, or death certificates
  • Court filings and legal documents
  • Government application forms

The scope is broad, reflecting the statute’s purpose to protect the authenticity and reliability of public records. Any document that can affect legal rights or statuses falls under the purview of this law.

What Are the Penalties for Violating 115 PC?

Being convicted of filing a false document under Penal Code 115 is considered a felony and shall be punished severely. The potential penalties include:

  • Imprisonment: Offenders can face up to three years in state prison.
  • Fines: In addition to or instead of imprisonment, fines can be imposed, sometimes reaching thousands of dollars, depending on the case specifics.

The severity of the sentence often hinges on factors such as the nature of the falsification, the consequences of the fraudulent document, and the defendant’s criminal history. These penalties underscore the seriousness with which California treats document fraud, categorizing it as a white-collar crime [3] with substantial repercussions.

The ramifications of a felony conviction under Penal Code 115 extend far into an individual’s future. Owing to the felony’s severity, convicted individuals may find themselves barred from certain rights, like voting or owning firearms [4] , depending on the nature and context of their crime. Additionally, those with felony records may face restrictions [5] when seeking housing or higher education opportunities, as landlords and educational institutions may conduct background checks. Such broad impacts elucidate why charges under Penal Code 115 are considered among the most consequential in California’s legal system.

Being found guilty of a felony under Penal Code 115 can increase the severity of penalties faced in subsequent legal issues. If an individual is later involved in another criminal case, the felony record might influence judicial decisions, potentially resulting in harsher sentencing. Therefore, initial legal battles under Penal Code 115 not only address present concerns but also play a crucial role in shaping one’s legal future.

Defending Against a Charge Under Penal Code 115

Individuals charged under California Penal Code 115 benefit from various potential defenses:

  1. Lack of Intent: If it can be shown that there was no intention to commit fraud—perhaps the false information was submitted mistakenly or unknowingly—this can be a solid defense.
  2. No Knowledge of Falsity: Defendants might not have known that the document was false, especially if they were not the originators of the document.
  3. False Accusation: In some cases, individuals are wrongly accused [6] due to misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions.

Expert legal representation from criminal defense attorneys is crucial when asserting these defenses, as navigating the complexities of falsification charges requires a sophisticated understanding of the law.

Related Legal Offenses and Charges

Penal Code 115 is often associated with other legal violations, each related to deceit or falsification:

  • Forgery (Penal Code 470): This involves signing someone else’s name and forging a seal or legal document to deceive another person.
  • Perjury (Penal Code 118) [7]: Lying under oath, also deeply related to the falsification of documents and misinformation.

Understanding these related offenses is imperative for a comprehensive defense strategy, as charges can overlap or be filed concurrently, complicating the legal landscape for the defendant.

Seeking Legal Help for Penal Code 115 Charges

Facing allegations under California Penal Code 115 is daunting and highlights the need for experienced criminal defense attorneys. Defendants require legal advisors who not only comprehend the intricacies of falsifying documents but also understand how to effectively navigate the judicial system to protect their clients’ rights and freedoms.

Knowledgeable attorneys at Manshoory Law can mitigate the impact of the charges, negotiate plea deals if appropriate, and represent the accused in court, ensuring that their side of the story is heard. Their expertise is vital in cases where the nuances of intent and knowledge significantly influence the trial’s outcome.

The indicated strategies and explanations elucidate the gravity of California Penal Code 115, emphasizing why anyone facing such charges should seek the most competent and assertive defense available. Comprehensive legal support becomes indispensable in these scenarios, ensuring that all possible defenses are explored and utilized in one’s favor.

Protecting Your Rights with Expert Legal Representation

Navigating the complexities of California Penal Code 115 is not merely about understanding the legal consequences; it’s about protecting your future. A conviction under this section can have far-reaching effects, impacting everything from personal freedom to professional opportunities. It underscores the necessity of accurate and honest dealings with public documents and establishes a framework for maintaining integrity within public offices and personal affairs.

Given the stringent penalties associated with violating Penal Code 115, seeking experienced legal representation is crucial. Manshoory Law, a trusted criminal defense attorney in Southern California, specializes in such white-collar crimes. They are adept at interpreting the nuances of document falsification cases and bring a wealth of experience to help mitigate the potential legal repercussions.

If you or someone you know is facing charges under California Penal Code 115, prompt action is essential. Contact Manshoory Law today to schedule a consultation. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case, providing expert advice and robust defense strategies tailored to your unique circumstances.


  1. Manshoory, S. (2023, September 20). Misdemeanor, felony and “Wobbler” offenses in CA | Manshoory Law. Manshoory Law Group, APC.

  2. Parker, D. (2024, June 4). What is White-Collar Crime? Definitions, Types, and Impacts | Manshoory Law. Manshoory Law Group, APC.

  3. Manshoory, S. (2023, September 20). Why are California Gun Laws so Strict – Manshoory Law Group. Manshoory Law Group, APC.

  4. Misdemeanor and felony possible consequences | Manshoory Law. (2022, January 17). Manshoory Law Group, APC.

  5. Manshoory, S. (2024, April 18). How to defend yourself against false accusations | Manshoory Law. Manshoory Law Group, APC.

  6. California Penal Code 118: Perjury Punishment and Defenses | Manshoory Law. (2024, June 12). Manshoory Law Group, APC.