What are Forgery Charges?

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  • Written By: Heather Phillips
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
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Forgery charges are allegations of fraud leveled at a person who may have created, signed, or altered a document with the intent to deceive others of their monetary, legal, or property rights. A common example of forgery is when one person signs another person’s signature without authorization. In addition, such charges can arise if someone attempts to use another person’s credit card, submits unemployment claims while employed, or tries to cash a bad check. Counterfeiting is also a kind of forgery.

Even if a person has not actually defrauded anyone else, he or she might still face forgery charges if it can be proven that criminal intent was present. If one person helps another commit forgery, perhaps by passing falsified documents, that person may also be indicted for aiding and abetting in a criminal act. In the U.S. state of New York, these charges can arise if a person possesses any tool, or equipment, that is used specifically to counterfeit objects, like government seals or illegal documents.

In the United States, forgery charges can either be prosecuted federally or at the state level. If a person is accused of acts of forgery in various different states, then the case will most likely be prosecuted as a federal charge. A state charge is usually prosecuted in a state court, but could be prosecuted federally. Regardless of location, if the crime is severe, it is likely to result in federal prosecution.


Punishments arising from successfully prosecuted charges vary with the gravity of the offense and other considerations, such as criminal history. Some consequences may include probation, jail time, fines, community service, and restitution. Restitution means giving the victim back what he or she was defrauded of. Jail time can vary from time served while awaiting a trial to up to 15 years in prison. Penalties often differ widely from place to place, but most successfully prosecuted cases typically result in a misdemeanor or felony criminal record.

Defense of a person charged with forgery can center on proving that there was no criminal intent. The defense can also seek to prove that a document alleged to be fraudulent does not deprive another person of anything of value. A defense lawyer’s strategy to combat forgery charges depends on the particular charges, where the alleged crime took place, and whether the case is prosecuted at the state or federal level.


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Post 10

When people talk about their spouse's financial abuse, it always seems to be the 'ex', in which case it's easier to take action. I've just learned that my current spouse took the title for our jointly owned vehicle and used it, plus my forged signature, to take out a title loan and of course, never paid it. I just want the car back. I was supposed to begin a new job soon. (We paid the car off several years ago, by the way.) Problem is, I can't acknowledge this with the bank, or I may never get the car back, plus my spouse is likely to end up in deep trouble for forgery and opening an account using my name

. If he gets into trouble, then we lose the apartment. We have pets that live in our home that will suffer. I'm finding it too difficult to be the one to bring all this down by merely trying to make it right.

He's really crippled us, in various ways, financially. He lies every day and I never know what's really going on. I used to work and in fact, be the primary income (many years), until too many similar incidents broke me. He's lost two other cars (which I purchased and he refused to care for), with the same tactics of doing whatever he wants besides paying the bill or letting anyone know he hasn't.

Note that this is the kind of person that produces fake receipts, etc. It’s very dangerous, it turns out. Thanks to this person, I've now got a life that looks too similar to the messes taking place on a show like “Disappeared” or whatnot. Very uncomfortable. It's gotten to the point I'm actually scared, and really the only way out is to have my car returned for starters, but I'm forced to play this game of saving everybody's life by waiting until the spouse’s next payday to see if they will actually pay up and have the car returned. After that, I may still have to report.

It's very frightening. This incident is much more serious by comparison, than in the past, and over the last few months, has just been spiraling out of control and I never knew. I've been looking forward to finishing my degree and I've also been contributing efforts to my own business which has paid nicely and I've contributed that to our relationship. It's gone. Just two weeks ago we were talking of progress and a week ago, I find out a bunch more bad information.

If he's done this, there have likely been other forgeries and for who knows what? I have no way of knowing. This person has really just put a lot of effort into tearing down our lives. I wouldn't want to see them suffer more by going to prison. They must be terribly sick already. The laws are not made -- still today -- to help an individual. If I report, I get hurt worse. If I don't report, it could be worse in five years. Every turn here seems to support him and not me. That's right, I'm the wife.

Post 9

I filed for divorce a year ago, and it should come up soon. My soon to be ex-husband sent me an email stating he wanted me to sign an e-file form. Apparently he filed a joint tax return this past year (always filed joint). I didn't even know the taxes were done or how they were done!

The email he sent me was was in October. His problem is that when I searched the IRS online service I found out that the $20,000 had already been directly deposited into his individual account! It was deposited two weeks before I even knew the taxes were done, how they were done or even seeing them let alone signing.

I have no intention

of signing now, and I also don't agree with what he claimed to be his income. This is not the first time he's done this. We were also separated in 2009 for six months and he forged (actually signed) my signature on the tax returns that year as well. He made very good money that year and I guess he didn't want me to see it!

So, what penalties would he face if I file a complaint with the local police department, Also, I had a TRO on him in January of last year, and a civil order. He's not supposed to break the law as per his probation.

Post 8

@anon277691: I am in a similar situation. My ex-wife attempted to get my medical records and signed a release form on my behalf. I've filed a complaint with the US Health and Human Services. I can't post the link, but look it up, and you should be able to find the complaint form package.

I wish you luck. Please wish me luck as well.

Post 7

My friend has two shoplifting charges, and one possession of marijuana charge. All are still pending. Now she has a felony charge of stealing, forging a signature and cashing two checks that total $680.00. She still has pending court dates for the two misdemeanors. Please advise.

Post 6

Someone forged my signature to obtain my son's medical records. What would be the steps to press charges on her?

Post 5

@anon275447: If you have 15 counts of forgery, then you have been charged with the crime of forgery. Unlike theft, forgery does not require a specific dollar amount to differentiate between a felony and a misdemeanor. In most states, forging signatures on personal checks, for instance, is a felony, whether the amount of the check is $5 or $10,000.

You might be able to plead for youthful offender status since you don't have a record.

Post 4

I have 15 counts of forgery less than $5,000. What could I possibly be charged with? I have no criminal record and I'm under 20 years old.

Post 2

My friend got caught with a counterfeit 100 dollar bill. I got away but she got arrested and she told the cops I was a part of it too. What is the maximum charge?

Post 1

I cashed a check for someone and didn't know that it was obtained unlawfully. Now I face forgery charges. Help me with any information, please.

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