To be the victim of forgery or be convicted for it would probably be one of the last things we would ever want to happen with us. Punishment for forgery within the USA can be really harsh and will leave you impaired for the rest of your life, with the stamp of a criminal on you.
What is Forgery?
Forgery is a criminal act in which a person is charged with altering or falsely making off writings to the prejudice of another man's right for the purpose of deceit or fraud. Over here, writing means the attestations, certificates, public records, or important documents. Forgery can be of a degree of misdemeanor or felony. There is no set punishment for this, and the degree of punishment largely depends upon the financial value involved in a forgery attempt.
There are many types of forgery and they are subjected to punishment by the statutes enacted by the national and state legislatures. Few examples are, signing another person's name to a check, endorsing a check on behalf of the payee without his/her knowledge, getting false letters of behavior, invoices, etc.
Utter forgery is the type in which a person passes a forged document as original for personal gains. Even if the person is not the one who has originally forged the documents, he/she will still be considered as a convict. If you happen to produce false documents or writing for the reason of defrauding a person or organization, you will be posed as guilty and it is considered as a felony.
If found guilty, the convict may be liable for imprisonment, the duration of which cannot be specified as it largely depends upon the nature of the offense, including whether there was an actual intent to defraud, and also the financial value of the attempted forgery. If a person is arrested for utter forgery, it is best to get an experienced lawyer involved, as they would be in the best position to guide you for legal advice.
Forgery is a crime in the United States, irrespective of the type of it that you attempt. Every state in the USA has its own laws for forgery. Depending upon the state, the accused will be punished if he/she is found guilty. Punishment can be imprisonment for a year in a county or state jail. Depending upon how the case is taken by the judge, it can be considered as a felony or a misdemeanor. Punishment depends upon the amount of money involved in the attempted forgery. Whether the accused was convicted before for any other crime also affects the punishment.
To be guilty, a person needs to have had the intention of cheating or defrauding. A person attempts forgery when he/she makes forged documents which are of legal significance or is involved in altering genuine writings. If a national-level forgery is committed, then the case comes under the United States court's jurisdiction. Following are few of the writings of legal significance which can be forged:
- Stock Certificates
- Money Orders
- Promissory Notes
- Wills and Contracts
- Court Seals
- Identity Theft Documents
- Corporate Documents
I don't think I will need to mention why people use forged documents and in what interests. However, just to mention it, there may be various reasons, like to make money from someone else's bonds, to show a person is of a good character, to gain from a will, etc. If you are aware that the documents you're in possession of are forged and you still attempt to use it, then you are considered as guilty. You will be liable for a punishment based on the financial value of the forged documents and also how much you would have gained by the forgery. Punishments for identity theft and check forgery can be equally severe.
Millions of dollars are lost each year in the USA because of forgeries, so a forgery attempt calls for a severe punishment. It is considered a highly punishable offense. A person convicted of this crime faces a jail term, along with gaining a criminal record, asset forfeiture, and restitution. In the USA, forgery is interpreted under three main offenses, viz., intent to defraud, false-making, and writing.