A Closer Look at Punishment for Forgery
The punishment for forgery is often a lot stiffer than most of us would believe. You may be wondering what exactly forgery is. Most of us associate it with simply meaning signing someone else’s name on a document, but forgery can be so much more than that. Technically, the government sees forgery as being a false writing or alteration of any document that holds legal significance. This can be applied to a wealth of situations, such as altering checks, deeds, or wills, and even coins or paper money. It also includes not just handwriting but typed, printed, and engraved methods. Forgery also goes hand in hand with another offense called uttering, although an individual can be charged with one offense without being charged for the other. Uttering is the act of handing over a forged document with the intention of passing it on as a legitimate document. The real key to committing either offense is that one must be willfully committing the crime. Now that we are clear about what forgery and uttering are, let us move on to the types of punishment for forgery.
A first degree charge in forgery is considered to be a class C felony (an example of a class A felony would be murder). The type of forgery one would have to commit to fall into this category would be the intended alteration or creation of money or other government items such as stamps. Forgery of stocks and bonds also falls into this category.
Second degree forgery is considered to be a class D felony. This type of forgery includes intentionally altering or creating documents to appear as a genuine and complete item. Examples of this would be changing a deed, birth certificate or other public record, or forging a doctor’s prescription. These offenses are the most likely to occur in the general public.
A third degree charge of forgery is the least significant of the three. This includes creating or changing a document which defrauds someone else or is done with the intent of causing someone else harm or deception. This is a class A misdemeanor and is likely to have the least severe punishment.
The punishment for forgery depends on a variety of things. For one, it depends on the severity of the crime and how much harm resulted from it. For instance, someone who was charged for forging several million dollars’ worth of money would likely be charged more harshly than someone who forged their spouse’s signature on a lease agreement. Each state in America has its own laws regarding both forgery and uttering, and a lot can also depend on how the district attorney views the crime. It can also have a great bearing on the case if the accused has been convicted of forgery before. As with any crime, repeated attempts or convictions of a crime will result in a harsher punishment each time one is to be convicted. In many instances, the convicted person will be fined and possibly imprisoned. If money is involved—and many times it is—the convicted person will be responsible for repaying the damages done. For instance, if they cashed fraudulent checks in the total amount of $35,000, they would be responsible for repaying this amount that they essentially spent as a result of forgery. Prison sentences can range anywhere from one to twenty years depending on the severity of the crime and the convicted person’s past criminal history. Repeat offenders are more likely to acquire a prison sentence than first time offenders, who are more likely to receive a fine and a black mark on their record.