Computers and sophisticated printers have made it easier than ever to create realistic-looking fake documents. But whether you use a pen or state-of-the-art design software, if you carry out forgery — defrauding someone using written means — Pennsylvania laws will treat you harshly.
You may have resorted to forgery because you were desperate to pay overdue bills. But those who are charged with forgery face frightening repercussions that include prison, fines and a criminal record. If you are arrested, you will need a strong and aggressive defense.
What You Need To Know About Forgery
It is forgery when you intentionally try to defraud or injure someone else through writing or printing. The items covered under Pennsylvania’s forgery statute include everything from faked documents to trademarks, electronic signatures, credit cards, badges, tokens, checks and money.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania spells out three different ways of committing forgery that are criminal offenses:
- Altering someone’s writing without their permission. For example, you take a check a customer hand-wrote to you for $1,000, and use a pen with the same color ink to alter the 1 and turn it into a 4. This makes it a check for $4,000 and you take it to the bank to deposit it in your account for the forged amount.
- Creating a complete false document from scratch, or completing a document that has already been started. The key is that you claim the document is authentic when it is actually a forgery. For example, you take a blank check from your employer, forge the company president’s signature on it, and then try to use the check to buy a car. Or you create a bogus gift card using a design program on your computer, and then take it to a store to try and redeem it for merchandise.
- Passing off a document you didn’t create and that you know is forged, as authentic. For example, your coworker creates phony disability paperwork with your name on it as a joke. You know the paperwork is false but you send it in to a government agency anyway to try and collect payments.
If you forge money or something that purports to be money, or you forge a document issued by the government you can face a felony of the second degree. If you forge legal documents like a will or deed, you are risking a felony of the third degree. All other forgeries are misdemeanors of the third degree.
What To Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged with forgery, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.
- As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
- If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
- Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
- If you believed you had permission to create or use the item, your lawyer will look for proof that supports your claim.
- If you did not have the intention to commit forgery, your attorney will work hard to show this is true.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against a forgery charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Forgery Law
Forgery is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 39. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.