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An Overview of the Crime of Forgery

Although the definition of forgery varies depending on the state, it generally includes the following elements:

  • Falsifying a legal or financial instrument or any existing document
  • Creating a fictitious instrument or document, like a fake deed
  • Using, transferring or presenting a forged item (occasionally referred to as “uttering” a forged instrument)
  • Possessing, selling or producing any equipment specifically designed for the forgery of instruments or documents

Some of the more common examples of forgery you might be familiar with include:

  • Signing another person’s name on to a check without that person’s permission
  • Changing the amount written on a check without the permission of the check writer
  • Attempting to cash a check that has ben forged
  • Developing a fake real estate document, such as a deed

Other crimes may be involved in conjunction with forgery, including counterfeiting money or developing fake credit cards or security badges.

You could be charged with a crime for merely possessing the equipment used to forge a document or instrument — but to be guilty you must have had the intent to defraud or harm another person in some way. In this scenario, your intent would have been to take property or money not intended for you, or to take some form of legal action you otherwise would not have been authorized to do. The result of the actions must cause some sort of harm to another person, whether financial or legal.

Forgery may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the laws in your jurisdiction and the value of the property involved. To learn more about your legal options when facing these types of charges, call on the knowledgeable Berks County criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.

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