Contact a Pittsburgh Forgery Defense Attorney If You're Facing Forgery Charges
In today’s digital world, forgeries have become easier than ever before. With the assistance of various tools and programs, even an untrained individual can forge a document or otherwise misrepresent themselves using a document. As such, prosecutors tend to be quite aggressive in pursuing forgery offenses when the circumstances are sufficiently egregious.
Forgery is a serious criminal fraud offense for which the penalties can vary significantly depending on the circumstances. In Pennsylvania, a forgery violation may be prosecuted as either a first-degree misdemeanor, third-degree felony or a second-degree felony, with penalties commensurate with the severity of the offense.
If you’ve been charged with forgery, contact a Pittsburgh forgery defense attorney at McKinney Law for further assistance. We have a proven track record of defending clients in forgery and fraud litigation – success that has been driven in large part by our commitment to clients and our willingness to aggressively represent their interests at every stage of prosecution.
What Qualifies as Forgery Under Pennsylvania Law?
Forgery is defined in Section 4101 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The statute deems a person guilty of forgery if, with intent to defraud or injure anyone, or with knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone, that person:
- Alters any writing of another without authorization;
- Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed; or
- Misrepresents as authentic any writing which he knows to be forged in the manner specified above.
The “writing” itself need not involve physical paper. It may include any other method for recording information, from coinage to stamps, seals, electronic signatures, identification badges, and more.
Forgery conduct may include, but is not limited to:
- Misrepresenting a forged document as authentic
- Manipulating information on a document to change the values (i.e., changing the amount on a check with authorization to do so)
- Drafting an inauthentic document (i.e., creating a land deed)
- Copying the signature of another to write a check
- And more
The intent to use the document or writing to defraud or financially injure another is critical. If you modify a financial document for your own personal use, but you do not use or attempt to use it to commit fraud, then you cannot be held liable for forgery.
Grading the Offense
Forgery is a misdemeanor of the first-degree unless specific circumstances apply to enhance the grading the offense. As a misdemeanor of the first-degree, forgery is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
If the forged writing is or purports to be a will, deed, contract, release, commercial instrument, or other document affecting legal relations, then the forgery will be prosecuted as a third-degree felony offense. This is punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines.
If the forged writing is or purports to be part of an issue of money, securities, postage or revenue stamps, or other instruments issued by the government, or part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other instruments representing property or enterprise claims/interests, then the forgery will be prosecuted as a second-degree felony offense. This is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines.
Request a Free Consultation With an Experienced Pittsburgh Forgery Defense Attorney at McKinney Law
If you’ve been accused, arrested, or charged with having committed forgery, then you may be facing severe penalties.
We encourage you to seek the assistance of a Pittsburgh forgery defense attorney at McKinney Law as soon as possible. Working with an attorney early on in the criminal litigation process has a number of advantages, not the least of which is the assurance that the case is being fully evaluated and that all relevant evidence will be identified and preserved.
Call (412) 520-3301 or submit an online case evaluation form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation.