Forgery is the label given to a host of white collar crimes that involve the reproduction of a signature, document or other item created for the purpose of deceiving another individual. If that individual then passes along said item as being legitimate or real, they are then liable for the crime of fraud.
This crime can run the gamut from creating fraudulent checks for an active account, illegally reproducing another person’s signature on a document, altering public records and credit card fraud. The act, if you are charged, is considered to be a felony, and may even carry federal penalties as well.
The reproduction of documents is one of the most difficult parts of forgery and fraud to prove in a court of law. Simply photocopying a document is not generally considered to be either forgery or fraud, unless portions have been altered with false information, and passed off as true or original. It is, however, if it can be proven that a signature has been reproduced or, the money amount was altered for the benefit of another person, generally not the account holder.
It is considered to be forgery or fraud when checks or otherwise legal tender are counterfeited for reasons of profit. Creating them, cashing them in or passing them along to a third party as genuine is fraud. In most cases, this will go beyond a simple felony into the realm of being a federal crime, and will carry a definitely higher and significant punishment.
Proving it in court
If you are ever charged, it is imperative that you retain the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. The reasoning behind this is that the crime has so many nuances that have to be proven, defending yourself in court is definitely not an option.
Proving forgery in court involves reviewing every aspect of evidence in the case, against the totality of law. This will include signatures, and every other aspect of any forged document, by experts trained in spotting the most minuscule detail in comparison to an actual proven original. This can be challenging to defend against, and an experienced criminal defense attorney would be able to raise a number of different defenses on your behalf.
Types of defenses
Two potential defenses must be proven by your criminal defense attorney in order to reduce the charges against you, or get them dropped entirely. The first defense is to show that you possessed a lack of intent at the time the crime was supposedly committed. If he can prove that you honestly believed that you were in the right when you signed that name on a check, for example, the charges might be reduced or dropped.
The second defense concerns the document itself. The prosecution must prove that the document created or altered was done so in order to defraud another of their rights, money or property. If this cannot be significantly proved to the satisfaction of the court, the charges may be reduced or dropped.