Falsifying Documents

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What Is Meant by "Falsifying Documents"?

“Falsifying Documents” is a type of white collar crime. It involves altering, changing, or modifying a document for the purpose of deceiving another person. It can also involve the passing along of copies of documents that are known to be false. In many states, falsifying a document is a crime punishable as a felony.

Some types of documents that are commonly falsified may include:

Basically, any type of official form or document can be illegally modified.  Falsifying documents is usually done in connection with broader criminal aims, such as tax evasion.

In order to be convicted of falsifying documents, the accused person must have acted with criminal intent. Some businesses forms such as corporations can also be charged with falsifying documents.   

What Types of Acts May Constitute Falsifying a Document?

Many different types of acts can be considered as falsifying a document, including: 

Again, a person can only be held criminally liable if they are acting with the intention of deceiving or defrauding another party. So, if a person was using a document but did not know that it was fake, they usually cannot be found guilty of falsifying a document.

What Are the Legal Penalties for Falsifying Documents?

Falsifying documents is a very serious offense and is generally classified as a felony. This means that a person charged with falsifying documents may be subject to the following legal penalties:

Depending on the nature of the offense, as well as individual state laws, falsifying documents can result in a prison sentence of 5-10 years. Also, if government documents or federal authorities were involved, the legal penalties may be more severe. A maximum sentence for falsifying federal investigation and bankruptcy records can be fines and 20 year imprisonment.

Legal penalties may increase with repeat offenses. 

What are Other Penalties for Falsifying Documents?

Besides being subject to penalties and incarceration, falsifying documents can have adverse consequences in one’s life and may constitute:

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Accused of Falsifying Documents?

If you or your business entity is being charged with falsifying documents, you may wish to speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal attorney can explain the specific laws of your individual state. Also, they may be able to tell whether you can raise a defense, such as a lack of criminal intent. 

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Last Modified: 07-11-2014 11:04 AM PDT

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