The business world relies heavily on the production and exchange of legitimate documents to express legal rights and obligations, prove important facts, and exchange vital information. When these documents are falsified in any way, a crime known as forgery, social order and stability are challenged. Forgery is any act involving the making, altering or possessing of illegitimate or false documents which are intended to deceive or defraud another person or organization. Forgery of written information in the business world is committed in order to cheat a person, company, or government organization out of goods, services, money, or even information.
Fraud and forgery are similar offenses, both of which are carried out to deceive another and seek some gain that their expense. Fraud, however, is a crime that typically involves general intent, while forgery involves a specific purpose and a specific mental state (mens reas). For forgery to be a criminal act, the person must have committed forgery with the intent to deceive or defraud another. Forgery is considered a felony crime by the federal government and all fifty states. A person convicted of forgery can face heavy penalties including incarceration, heavy fines, probation, community service, the loss of some civil privileges and more.
Forgery can involve the false making of anything handwritten, typewritten, computer generated, printed or engraved from scratch that is intended to defraud. Forgery can also involve significant material alteration of a genuine document. This can include forgery involving false signatures or improperly filling out forms. A document is considered forgery if it looks authentic enough to deceive a reasonable person. It must also have some legal significance in order to be considered unlawful. Forgery also includes the possession of any forged document or forgery device with knowledge of its purpose.
Forgery is commonly committed in order to defraud the government or a business, to accomplish identity theft or the falsification of one's identity. False or altered identification documents are a common type of forgery. Identification documents, like passports and driver's licenses, may be forged in order to alter immigration or citizenship status, age, status or special authority, or to steal another's identity. Any alteration or creation of false government documents is also considered a serious forgery offence. Forgery against a business can involve false sales receipts, false employee documents, or any other false documentation intended to fool another party.
Forgery is a serious felony offence that is typically classified based on the severity of the crime. Every state has established laws regarding forgery offenses. While the laws can vary by state, first degree forgery involves the actual presentation/use of any falsely made, altered or possessed document with the intent to deceive or defraud, while forgery in the second degree does not require use or presentation of the documents. A forgery conviction can result in up to ten years in prison, heavy fines, and more. If you would like to learn more about forgery, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
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