It is common knowledge that forgery means to try and pass off your signature as someone else’s. Most common examples of forgery are children trying to pull a fast one by signing their parent’s name on their reading log, knowing full well they didn’t tell their parents that they had reading homework and they had failed to complete it. At this age, this kind of behavior presents itself as a teachable moment, giving kids an insight into the laws that surround forgery by simply telling them that their actions are dishonest and illegal.
Forgery laws do not stop just there. The state of Texas is a bit broader than other states when it comes to forgery laws. As technology continues to become more and more advanced, people are finding it easier to replicate documents, such as marriage licenses, and passing them off as the real deal.
Forgery is considered a serious white-collar crime in the state of Texas. Depending on what was being forged and the purpose of the forgery, the crime’s punishment can range from hefty fines to years in prison.
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The Growing Issue With Texas Forgery Laws
One of the biggest problems individuals face is that they are wrongfully accused of forgery. There are some companies out there that help streamline the process for individuals looking to get their name changed or other smaller changes to official documents without having to go into the social security office or DMV. While there are a lot of legitimate companies out there that do help individuals with an incredibly busy schedule get this done, a lot of them also take the money for the service and return falsified documents. All of the information is correct and it looks believably authentic but it’s not. The individuals who thought they were getting legitimate service now find themselves being accused of forgery, and their entire life is thrown for a loop.
If you were wrongfully accused of forgery in the state of Texas, you are fighting an uphill battle. The persecution has already decided you are guilty, and the charge and the arrest make those around you suspicious of your innocence as well. Prejudice and unfair treatment come as a result, as you struggle to prove that you are innocent. Thankfully, the attorneys at Gebhardt & Eppes understands that individuals in the United States are innocent unless proven guilty. We stand behind this sentiment and work hard for our clients to ensure that they are being treated fairly and that they have an advocate on their side that can fight for their case and handle the authorities. Here is more information on our forgery defense attorney services:
What Is Forgery Under Texas State Law?
Texas Penal Code Section 32.21 states that an alleged offender commits forgery if he or she fakes writing, whether a signature or an entire document, with the intent to defraud or harm another individual or entity. The term forgery can be broken down into the following actions:
- To alter, make, complete, execute, or authenticate any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act; to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed;
- To issue, transfer, register the transfer of, pass, publish, or otherwise utter a writing that is forged
- To knowingly possess a writing that is forged with the intent to use it in a specified manner to deceive another individual to defraud or harm them
Forgery can be done by the following methods:
- Printing or any other method of recording information
- Making money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, and trademarks without the consent of the government or entity in which those items hold value
- Recreating symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification without the authority of the entity or body that this information holds value
How Does Anyone Prove That an Individual Knowingly Possessed Forged Documents?
Texas state law makes it clear that an individual can be charged with forgery with the intent to defraud or harm another person or entity when they act with respect to two or more writings of the same type. For example, if they went to the DMV to get their name changed, and they presented a forged marriage document and a forged social security card, this would be enough reason to presume that the individual is attempting to defraud them. For this to be true, the forgery has to be on documents that are listed under Texas Penal Code Section 37.01 (2)(C). These documents include but are not limited to:
- Letter of Patent
What Is the Penalty for a Forgery Conviction in Texas?
Forgery as a Third-Degree Felony
Typically, most cases of forgery are considered a third-degree felony. This is often the case when the forgery falls under the following categories:
- Part of an issue of money, securities, postage, or revenue stamps
- Letter or Patent
- Other instruments that represent interests in or claims against another person
A third-degree felony conviction carries with it the following penalties:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Forgery as a Second-Degree Felony
A case of forgery can be increased to a second-degree felony if the alleged offense was committed against an elderly person, which Texas state law defines as individuals who are 65 years and older. A second-degree felony is punishable by:
- Up to 20 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Forgery As a State Jail Felony
If the individual who is being charged with forgery attempted to fake the following documents, the charge will be considered a state jail felony:
- Deed of Trust
- Security Instrument
- Security Agreement
- Credit Card
- Authorization to Debit and Account at a Financial Institution
- Similar Sight Order for Payment of Money
- Other Commercial Instrument
This carries with it the following punishments:
- Up to 2 years in state jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
What If It Was the Case of a Forged Signature?
Forgery on smaller scale cases such as a forged signature is not as heavily punished as trying to pass off an entire document from the government or financial institution. In these cases, a forged signature or other smaller forgery charge will be considered a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
What Are the Possible Defenses Against Forgery?
Forgery charges can be dismissed if the following conditions can be proven:
- The signature or document in question was not forged.
- There was no intent to defraud on the part of the accused.
Experienced Forgery Defense Attorneys
While the state of Texas may be pretty clear on its forgery laws, the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals are innocent unless proven guilty. This is why our team fights hard to ensure that criminal charges do not completely derail a person’s life. Whether that means proving their innocence or getting the charge reduced to fit the actual offense. Contact our Forgery Defense Lawyers today for a FREE consultation.
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If the forgery was for an issue of money or a government record then the conviction will be punished as a third-degree felony. This will come with a maximum fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence for up to 10 years.
If the offense committed was against an elderly person, then the conviction will be punished as one category higher than the original category of the offense. For example, a third-degree felony would be elevated to a second-degree felony.
An individual who is convicted of forgery a signature will often be considered to have committed a misdemeanor. This will have them facing a jail sentence of at least one year.
Technically no, but the crime of forgery could potentially lead to identity theft. This is because the act of using someone else’s signature to steal money, goods, or personal information. Both of these crimes are considered felony offenses, but identity theft often carried more severe punishments.