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One company made us sign Application Form and then they forged our signature on "extension contract" that we never had a chance to see. This forged contract is very disadvantageous to us.

Today we went to police department to report signature forgery. However, police officer rejected our report and redirected us to civil court, because "we are in business with this company" (ie signed application form in the past) and because of this police can't help us.

Then I explicitly asked police officer if they would have accepted our report if we hadn't signed anything with this company in the first place and she said "yes, in that case this would be typical scam and we would initiate criminal case."

I have two questions:

  1. Did the police officer have rights to reject our report and not initiate criminal case only because in the past we had signed Application Form with this fraudulent company?
  2. Isn't this a hole in the legal system that we have to go through court to have criminal case initiated against this company? I mean if we go to court then the court will send notice to this company with forgery accusation and then this company has golden opportunity to "fix" documents at their end (opposed to police confiscating the evidence as-is)?

Update#1 This company already charged these fees from us - they are credit card processor company so they had control control over our account that we applied for through this application form. If I understand correctly then this implies that burden of proof falls on us because we are trying to reverse fees.

Update#2. I just found out that another victim of the same company in a different state was able to get CAPIAS (Civil Warrant Of Arrest) for the same forgery issue. Can this be used in California so that police would initiate criminal case against this company also in our state?

In the answer regarding question #1 I would appreciate a link to police processes (or law) that would justify police officers choice to reject our case (US, California). Regarding question #2 I would like to hear your opinion, that is argumented, on why this is or isn't a hole in the legal system.

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    Police officers don't always understand the law completely. It's possible that the police officers acted inappropriately based on a simplified understanding. – phoog Dec 22 '15 at 19:57
  • @phoog Any recommendations on what should be done to convince police officer to initiate case? Is there a law that talks about this? – Jonny Dec 22 '15 at 20:03
  • I don't have anything to add to Mowzer's answer, which is pretty thorough. – phoog Dec 23 '15 at 5:22
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IMHO, your questions reflect several misunderstandings of how the process works. So, with your permission, I will avoid directly answering your questions and instead focus on suggestions how to best help you plot a path forward.

  1. Your counterparty has the burden of proof. If your counterparty forged your signature on a contract, then they must prove you signed it or they can not enforce it. In order to enforce the contract, they will need to sue you civilly. Then you can introduce evidence of their forgery at that time.

  2. Inform your counterparty you did not sign the contract. Then act accordingly. If your counterparty forged your signature on an extension contract then you should inform them immediately after it has come to your attention. Advise them you have no intention of complying with a contract you never signed. And that if they try to enforce the forged agreement, you will defend yourself "vigorously."

  3. Never threaten criminal charges to advance your position in a civil case. This behavior is a crime in itself. It's called extortion. If you want to pursue criminal charges at some point then do it without relating it to the civil case.

  4. The police are not your only means of pursuing criminal charges. You can also schedule a meeting with your District Attorney, State's Attorney (whatever that position is called in your state) or your state's Attorney General. In other words, you might want to approach the government's attorney responsible for prosecuting crimes in your jurisdiction.

  5. Forget about involving the police. They have given you their position on the matter. Approach the DA or AG office instead. If the DA/AG decides to use the police, she we will make that decision then inform the police how she needs to use their services. Police are wary of being used as leverage in civil disputes. That's probably the reason for their policy decision regardless of whether it's technically justified by the law or not.

  6. Your counterparty can't "fix" anything. If they claim you signed a document you did not, they will have to produce that document with your signature on it. This will presumably be your Exhibit A evidence they forged it.

Disclaimer: I am a lay person and not an attorney. This writing is no substitute for proper legal advice. If you need help with a specific legal situation please hire an attorney and do not rely on anything I have written here.

  • Sorry, if it wasn't clear in my question, but I am trying to reverse fees that this company already charged from us via previous auto-payment. So burden of proof falls on us, I believe. – Jonny Dec 22 '15 at 20:38
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    @Jonny Regardless of what you believe, you should talk to a lawyer. First and foremost, you have a contract dispute, and there is very little chance the police or the DA will get involved. If you can invalidate the contract, by proving it is a forgery, then the authorities may be interested. – Mohair Dec 22 '15 at 21:10
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    @Jonny: i agree with Mohair. it's unlikely the DA will be interested unless and until u win a civil case. like u said, they are busy trying violent criminals. prosecuting white collar crimes like this is, as a general matter, outside their "box." the burden of proof is lower in a civil case. so if u can't win there, it's unlikely a DA can get a criminal conviction. as a civil plaintiff u have all the rights to evidence via discovery that the police would have. what do u think they might "fix?" also, giving them electronic access to your account will work heavily against u IMHO – Mowzer Dec 22 '15 at 21:55
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    @Jonny: If they sent you an earlier version of the contract with one signature on it... and they later produce a different copy of the same contract with a different signature on it... then it will be pretty obvious they tampered with the signatures and that alone should be enough for you to win your case wouldn't you think? That would be a sufficient preponderance of the evidence wouldn't you agree? – Mowzer Dec 22 '15 at 22:18
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    You missed 7): In the end, the prosecutor has virtually absolute discretion to not prosecute. It is the state that decides to prosecute or not; the victim has no general right to have someone prosecuted. – cpast Dec 23 '15 at 6:18

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