What is Document Forgery?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 February 2020
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Document forgery is a crime that entails creating a document to give the appearance of legal significance to a fact that is untrue. Additionally, the forger must be attempting to give the fact the appearance of being true with the intent to defraud another. There are many different kinds of document forgery, including the falsification of identifying documents and counterfeiting money. There are certain methods people use to detect forgery, though the specific techniques vary based upon the type of forgery that the forger commits.

In order to illegally forge a document, a person has to consciously misrepresent information through the creation of a document with intent to defraud another. For example, prior to going in for a job interview, a person may create copies of credentials that show he or she earned an advanced degree. The intent to fool the interviewer into thinking he is more qualified for the job than he actually is through falsely indicating that he has a particular degree constitutes document forgery.


More serious forms of document forgery occur when the forger attempts to falsely pay for things through fake checks or counterfeit money. Though it will depend on the jurisdiction in which such forgery is committed, the penalties for passing off false checks or counterfeiting money are typically severe. Usually, anti-counterfeiting laws impose steep fines, and depending on the extent of the fraud, may result in jail time. Additionally, most jurisdictions require that the forger provide the defrauded party with restitution.

The methods to detect document forgery vary based on the type of forgery committed; it requires a trained eye, and sometimes a specialist must be called in to assist in the detection. For instance, the police often employ handwriting analysts to examine writings for qualities that may indicate a forgery. Experts will look for points at which the alleged forger started and stopped while writing or other evidence of a conscious formation of letters. Such a lack of fluidity is an indication of document forgery since writing is generally a subconscious action.

Perhaps the most common type of document forgery is the forging of identifying documents. The penalty for this type of forgery will usually depend on the reason and purpose behind the forgery. For instance, a person creating a false identification card with the intention of showing he is old enough to purchase alcohol would result in less severe penalties than someone who created a similar document with the purpose of entering a country illegally.


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