Forgery is a broad category of crimes that generally involves the falsification of information on a form or document. The most common example of forgery is when a person copies (forges) a person’s signature and uses it without their consent. Forgery is typically classified as a white collar crime and can often involve state or federal charges.
Some common examples of forgery include:
- Signing off for someone else’s form or application
- Using a fake form or identification
- Physically or digitally altering an official document or form
Some defenses to forgery include:
- Lack of intent: The defendant must have intended to deceive the other party in order to be found liable for forgery.
- Lack of capacity or knowledge: The defendant must have had the legal capacity as well as the required knowledge in order to mislead the other part. The lack of legal capacity can sometimes be a defense by itself.
- Coercion: It can serve as a defense if a person was forced to forge a document under the threat of harm to themselves or their loved ones.
Lastly, only documents of legal significance can be forged. Forgery crimes do not apply, for instance, to certain works of art such as paintings, although copyright laws barring such activity might apply.
Penalties for forgery may include civil damages for losses caused by the forgery, as well as criminal consequences including jail time or criminal fees.
Forgery laws are very strict, especially if they involve government officials or government forms. You may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you need help with a forgery case. An attorney can inform you of your rights and can provide you with legal guidance during the entire process.