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Filing False Documents May Result in Criminal Charges

September 20, 1987|DAVID W. MYERS

Individuals who prepare false grant deeds can generally be charged with three separate crimes, although the most serious charge is instigated only if the individual files a false or forged deed with the county recorder's office or other government agency.

Fraudulent filing of a document that purports to convey an interest in real property is a misdemeanor. So is inducing a notary to notarize a document involved in an "improper act," such as fraud.

The most serious charge of the three results when an individual attempts to file false or forged instruments with any public office, including the recorder's office. This is a felony offense, and probation can only be given if it serves "the interest of justice."

The true owners of a building can file a civil suit against an individual whose actions "slander" title to their property, said Larry Teplin, head of litigation for the Los Angeles-based real estate law firm of Cox, Castle & Nicholson. The defendant would have to come to court and defend his claim to the property, and the judge will settle the dispute quickly.

However, Teplin said, the true owner of the building would have a difficult time collecting monetary damages from the defendant unless the owner could prove that his ability to transfer the property was hurt and he lost money because of the defendant's actions.

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