How Forgery Charges in PA Can Impact Your Future for Years
Being charged with forgery in Pennsylvania can be a harrowing experience. Not only is the potential for steep fines and jail time looming, but it can also have long-term consequences that could affect your life for years to come. Whether you are facing charges of forging documents, signatures, checks, or any other type of written material, understanding how this crime is treated under Pennsylvania law is key to protecting yourself and your future.
In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of forgery charges in PA and the potential penalties associated with it so you can make informed decisions about how best to proceed if you find yourself charged with this offense. And if you do find yourself in that situation, do not face the courts alone. Get in touch with Marinaro Law Firm for a consultation on how to best defend your rights.
What Is the Legal Definition of Forgery in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, forgery is defined under criminal law as the act of intentionally trying to harm or defraud someone using imitation or falsification. This crime includes:
- Altering the writing of another person without their explicit permission
- Making, completing, executing, authenticating, issuing, or transferring any writing without the other person’s permission, so it is designed to look like:
- Another person did it
- It was done at another place, time, or numbered sequence
- Or it was a copy of an original, and such an original didn’t exist before
- Using any writing that they know was forged by one of the two other ways listed above
What Does “Writing” Mean in Pennsylvania Forgery Laws?
In Pennsylvania’s forgery laws, “writing” refers to any method by which an item is forged, including printing, recording information, or handwriting. Items that are commonly forged in Pennsylvania include:
- Credit cards
- Electronic signatures
- Any other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification
For example, forging a will by handwriting the names of those involved in the document would be considered writing in this context. Similarly, creating a false deed by printing out a document with fraudulent information would also constitute writing in the eyes of Pennsylvania’s law.
What Has to Be Proven to Be Charged with Forgery in PA?
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with forgery if prosecutors can prove that you knowingly and unlawfully falsified the signature or handwriting of another individual or created a false document intending to defraud another person.
To be convicted of forgery in Pennsylvania, prosecutors must prove that:
- You knew about the creation of false writing – This knowledge includes any alterations you may have made to someone else’s signature or handwriting and any documents you may have created from scratch yourself.
- You acted with intent to deceive or defraud – This action means there must be proof that you intended to use your forged item to gain something of value from another person, such as monetary gain or goods.
- The writing was false – This writing is usually a signature done by you, the accused, or handwriting of any kind to prove the victim didn’t do it.
What Are the Different Types of Pennsylvania Forgery Charges?
Pennsylvania has several different levels of criminal offenses related to forgery, depending on the circumstances of the act. These offenses can be categorized into three main types: forgery of documents, forgery of checks and money orders, and counterfeiting currency.
Forgery of Documents
The forgery of documents is one of the three main types of forgery charges in Pennsylvania. This type of forgery involves intentionally altering or making false documents with the intent to defraud, mislead, deceive, or otherwise gain an advantage. A typical forged document could be a deed, contract, will, diploma, or license.
Forgery of Checks Or Money Orders
Forgery of checks and money orders covers any form of crime involving written financial instruments issued to someone else. This crime includes knowingly cashing counterfeit or bad checks and changing existing ones without the check writer’s consent.
The highest grade of forgery charge is counterfeit currency, which is the crime of falsely making bills indistinguishable from legitimate U.S. currency regarding look and feel. This crime often carries stiffer penalties than other crimes since it involves federal laws as well as state laws.
What Are Sentencing Guidelines for a Forgery Offense in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the criminal offense of forgery carries several potential penalties. Once you are found guilty of forgery, the sentence handed down to you will depend on the specifics of the case, including the value of the forged document or item, if there are multiple forgeries, or if you have a prior criminal history. But regardless of your circumstances, having a reliable forgery attorney on your side is paramount. Get in touch with our office today to build the defense you deserve.
Second-Degree Felony Forgery Charges in PA
In Pennsylvania, a second-degree felony involving forgeries includes crimes involving money, securities, postage, or revenue stamps. It also includes forgery of any instruments issued by the government, such as stocks, bonds, or any other “instruments representing interests in any property or enterprise.”
A second-degree felony in Pennsylvania can carry up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. In certain cases, if you are found guilty, you may also face additional penalties, such as revoking your driver’s license and probation.
Third-Degree Felony Forgery Charges in Pennsylvania
When you are guilty of third-degree forgery charges in PA, you have forged a deed, will, release, contract, or other type of commercial instrument. This charge also includes creating, transferring, deleting, or altering any document affecting legal relations.
These crimes in Pennsylvania carry up to $15,000 in fines and no more than seven years in prison. Additionally, if you commit a forgery crime while employed by a business or organization, you could face additional charges due to your position of trust in the workplace.
First-Degree Misdemeanor Forgery Charges in PA
If the forgery crime does not fit either of the sections above, it is considered to be a first-degree misdemeanor. Under Commonwealth law, a first-degree misdemeanor charge has up to $10,000 in fines and five years in prison.
If You’re In Need of a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney, Marinaro Law Can Help
When you’ve been charged with the crime of forgery or have multiple forgery charges in PA against you, the team at Marinaro Law Firm is ready to act on your behalf. Let us help you fight forgery charges in Pennsylvania and get the justice you deserve. Call us to schedule a legal consultation today.