Forgery is defined as altering, creating, transferring, completing or issuing any writing of another without authority or consent. Forgery is the creation of a false documents or the alteration of a genuine documents, coupled with the intention to defraud. It is not necessary for the entire document to be false, one insertion or forged signature can be classified as forgery. Forgery is generally considered a crime against property.
A person is guilty of the crime of forgery when they; offer or supply a document with inauthentic writing as genuine, when their intent is to defraud or injure, and when they were aware of the false nature of the forgery. Typical instruments of forgery include:
- Credit cards;
- Money or coins;
- Tokens or stamps;
- Promissory notes;
- Acquittance, or discharge for money or other property;
- Letters of Attorney;
- Policy of insurance;
- Bills of exchange or bills of lading;
- Vehicle titles;
- Trademarks and symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification;
- Passage ticket, pass or other evidence of transportation issued by a common carrier.
Forgery crimes can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the nature of the crime and the type of property that was forged. A person charged with forgery in Philadelphia may be in danger of facing the following penalties if convicted, if the forgery was of:
- Money, postage stamps, securities, stocks, bonds or any writings issued by the government it is a 2nd Degree Felony punishable by a fine of $5,000 to $25,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.
- A will, a contract, a deed or any other writings which affect legal relations it is a 3rd Degree Felony punishable by a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and/or up to 7 years in prison.
- Other forgeries are 1st Degree Misdemeanors punishable by a fine of $1,500 to $10,000 and/or up to 5 years imprisonment.
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Michael N. Kotik, Esq. (PA, NJ)