What are the elements of forgery?

Federal and state laws take forgery seriously. If you face forgery charges, it is important that you understand your rights and the law so that you can better defend yourself.

Part of understanding the law as it pertains to forgery involves understanding the elements of forgery. FindLaw explains the elements of forgery and what the prosecution must prove to convict you.

The crime of forgery

For forgery charges to stick, the prosecution needs to prove that you falsified a document or signature or that you created an imitation of an object of value. The most common form of forgery entails signing someone else’s signature on a check, contract or another important document. However, forgery can come in many forms, including fabricating documents, counterfeiting money or imitating consumer goods.

Proving forgery

In most states, it is not enough to prove that someone created an imitation object or signed someone else’s signature. Rather, the prosecution must also prove that you committed the act with the intent to deceive. This is the most important element in a forgery case.

For example, you may photocopy a piece of artwork you find visually appealing and hang it up in your home without fear of repercussions. However, if you attempt to sell that photocopied piece of artwork as an original, or if you represent it as your own, you cross the line from innocent admirer into forger.

Likewise, say your boss asks you to sign his or her signature on contracts upon approval. You signing your boss’s signature would not be considered forgery. However, if you sign your boss’s signature on a blank check that you plan to use for your own purposes, you commit forgery.

Forgery is a serious crime that can have serious consequences. However, with the right legal help and the right information, you can defend your rights and protect your freedom.

Costner & Greene Attorneys at Law

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