For decades now, children and teenagers have been forging their parents’ signatures on report cards, parent notices and other documents with information that they wanted to hide. At this age, getting caught and punished is simply a learning experience. Yet, when adults are accused and “caught” for forging legal documents and other items, the stakes are much higher—the alleged offender’s personal freedom, finances and reputation can be at risk.
Forgery is a white collar crime that that occurs when a person changes information or provides false information that is designed to mislead others for his or her own personal gain (usually to get someone to commit a certain action or to harm another person in some way). Texas law specifically defines forgery as altering, making, completing, executing or authenticating any writing…
1) so that the document represents an authorization by another person that was never actually made
2) so the document’s action appears to have occurred at a different time or place than when or where it actually occurred
3) or so the copy appears to be a copy of an original that does not actually exist. It is also considered forgery to try and issue, register or pass off such an altered document as a true document, or to possess such a document with an intention to commit this type of act.
Things that can be forged include everything from legal documents to special seals and trademarks. Forgery becomes a criminal offense when it is performed with the intention of harming or committing fraud against another person or an institution.
While forgery is considered a Class A misdemeanor at the base level under Texas law, it is considered a felony when certain factors are present.
The crime is classified as a state jail felony if the forged writing claims to be certain specified documents. Some of these documents include a will, a deed, a mortgage, a credit card, a check or a contract, though there are also many others specified under Texas law. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine amounting to up to $4,000. Meanwhile, a state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Forgery becomes more serious—classified as a third-degree felony—if the forged writing claims to be a government-issued document, such as money, postage, a license, a certificate or a permit that only the government can issue. A third-degree felony conviction can lead to 2 to 10 years in prison, as well as a potential fine of up to $10,000. Penalties for forgery can be enhanced when the victim of the offense is an elderly person (someone age 65 or over). Forgery is an offense that can also be charged at the federal level.
There many ways a criminal defense lawyer could help you defend yourself from forgery charges.
For example, you might be able to show that the misinformation was simply an accidental error, or that someone else was responsible for forging the document. You also might be able to show that there is a lack of evidence that you actually intended to defraud another person through your actions. These can be very difficult points to show in court without an aggressive defense attorney working on your behalf.
Get knowledgeable criminal defense with Jim Medley. He handles forgery offenses, as well as many other white collar crimes in Harris County. Make sure you have the appropriate level of protection you need to effectively challenge your criminal charges. With the help of a strong attorney, you might be able to avoid conviction. Contact us today to learn more about our services.