Forgery is the act of creating or altering documents for the purpose of defrauding another. The victim might be an individual (such as a roommate or family member), a business (such as a bank or insurance company), or a government agency (such as the Social Security Administration). Forgery can be committed on a mass scale, or involve a single document. Regardless of the details, forgery is a serious crime that can lead to years in prison, extremely costly fines, a felony criminal record, and untold damage to the career you have worked hard to build.
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was arrested and charged with forgery in Philadelphia, or has been arrested for related crimes such as insurance fraud or identity theft, you need to discuss your situation with a skilled and experienced Philadelphia forgery attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Office of Lloyd Long, founding attorney Lloyd Long has years of legal experience, including experience as a former prosecutor, handling thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases involving a wide range of white collar crimes, allowing us to craft robust and aggressive defense strategies protecting our clients’ constitutional rights. We can provide the skilled representation you need if you or a loved one is facing forgery charges in Philadelphia.
Types of Forgery Charges Our Criminal Attorneys Handle
The legal definition of forgery in Pennsylvania is set forth at 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4101(a), which states that a person commits forgery when he or she either “alters any writing of another without [the original author’s] authority,” or “makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing” on another’s behalf, without the other person’s permission. In addition, the prosecutor must show that the defendant performed these actions “with intent to defraud or injure anyone, or with knowledge that” he or she was helping another to do the same.
Forgery can take many forms based on this legal definition. Some common examples example altering a check to show a higher dollar amount, or forging another person’s signature on a lease, medical prescription, or financial document. Forgery can involve many different types of documents, or “instruments,” including but not limited to:
- Bankruptcy Forms
- Building Permits
- Business Contracts
- College Transcripts
- Commercial Property Leases
- Credit Cards
- Currency (Coins, Paper Money)
- Deeds to Property
- Disability Claims
- Driver Licenses
- Green Cards
- Gun Permits
- High School Transcripts
- Immigration Forms
- Insurance Claims
- Photo IDs
- Professional Permits and Certifications
- Promissory Notes
- Residential Property Leases
- SNAP Documents
- Stocks and Bonds
- Tax Returns
- Vehicle Titles
Depending on the situation, a defendant who has been charged with forgery in Philadelphia could also find themselves accused of related, equally serious crimes, such as identity theft or “bad checks,” which is the practice of “issu[ing] or pass[ing] a check… knowing that it will not be honored” – in other words, intentionally bouncing checks.
Philadelphia forgery lawyer Lloyd Long handles a wide range of forgery offenses and related white collar crimes (financial crimes) involving fraud and counterfeiting, including:
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4101 – Forgery
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4104 – Tampering with Records or Identification
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4105 – Bad Checks
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4106 – Access Device Fraud (Credit Card Fraud)
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4107 – Deceptive or Fraudulent Business Practices
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §4110 – Defrauding Secured Creditors
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4117 – Insurance Fraud
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4119 – Trademark Counterfeiting
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4120 – Identity Theft
Forgery Punishment in Pennsylvania: Sentence and Fines
Regardless of whether you allegedly committed forgery for your own financial benefit, or to help out a friend or family member, forgery is a serious criminal charge that can lead to extensive penalties, including prison time and expensive criminal fines. A forgery conviction can also have devastating implications for your professional reputation and career, particularly if your occupation involves handling sensitive personal or financial information for clients, customers, lending institutions, or investors.
As provided by 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4101(c), forgery can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature of the allegations. Though generally “graded” (categorized) as a first degree misdemeanor – the most serious type of misdemeanor before a crime becomes a felony – forgery can be graded as a:
- Third degree felony, if “the writing is or purports to be a will, deed, contract, release, commercial instrument, or other document [proving], creating, transferring, altering, terminating, or otherwise affecting legal relations.” In other words, forgery involving legal documents is generally a third degree felony. An “instrument” is a document or object.
- Second degree felony, if “the 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 interests in or claims against any property or enterprise.” In other words, forgery involving money, financial documents, or government documents is generally a second degree felony.
Based on these classifications, penalties for forgery in Pennsylvania may be imposed as follows:
- First Degree Misdemeanor – Up to 5 years in prison
- Third Degree Felony – Up to 7 years in prison
- Second Degree Felony – Up to 10 years in prison
Philadelphia Forgery Defense Lawyer for White Collar Crimes
A forgery conviction can change your life forever. Not only must you be concerned about the potential for debilitating fines and prison time – you are also at risk for collateral consequences like permanent damage to your career and employability.
With so much at stake, it is crucial that you exercise your right to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer. For a free legal consultation concerning Philadelphia forgery charges, contact the Law Office of Lloyd Long at (215) 525-6818.