Forgery Laws in Texas
In Texas, forgery is defined as an illegal action that involves using false information to create, alter or sign a document for the purpose of fraud or harming another person. Criminal forgery charges can be app lied to people who alter a document without permission, attempt to use a forged item or who possess forged materials with the intent to use them. A conviction for forgery can have serious legal consequences.
Types of Forgery
There are many different types of forgery. Some of them can include:
- Signing a document with a false name
- Using checks belonging to another person
- Making a false document
- Altering dates, times or amounts on an official document
- Using forged checks or other documents to obtain money or property
In order for forgery charges to be filed, a person must create, alter or disguise a document or item in an attempt to commit fraud. Fraud is defined as an action intended to deprive another person or institution of money, goods, services or property.
For example, Dana approaches a rare book collector and says that she has a very valuable antique book for sale. She takes a certificate of authenticity from another rare book and alters it so that it makes her book appear to be an authentic antique. She then sells her regular, non-rare book for a profit to the collector. Dana has committed forgery because she intentionally altered an official document in order to convince a person to pay her a large sum of money.
There are very severe penalties for a forgery conviction in Texas. The severity of the penalties is based on the nature of the forgery incident.
For example, a person who forges a check, a credit card, a will or a mortgage may be convicted of a state jail felony. This can lead to:
- Incarceration in state jail for 180 days or up to two years
- A fine of up to $10,000
- A person who forges money, postal stamps, stocks or government documents may be convicted of a third degree felony. This can lead to:
- Two to 10 years in state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
For most other minor documents or items that are forged, a person could be convicted of a class A misdemeanor. This can lead to:
- Incarceration in county jail for up to one year
- A fine of up to $4000
Any of these penalty categories can be enhanced to the next highest penalty category if the victim of the forgery was an elderly person aged 65 or older.
Hiring an attorney is the best way to attempt to create a strong legal defense against forgery charges. An attorney may be able to use evidence from the case to show:
- That the defendant did not engage in the alleged forgery activities
- The prosecution does not have enough evidence for a conviction
For example, in the previous scenario, a defense attorney could argue that Dana filled out a certificate of authenticity for the rare book sale in a legal way. The attorney could introduce evidence showing that Dana obtained a legal certificate of authenticity and did not alter another document.
The attorney could also argue that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to prove that Dana had criminal intent to commit forgery. The attorney could claim that Dana was attempting to legally fill out the certificat
If these strategies are successful, the court could decide to offer a plea bargain to a lesser charge or drop the charges completely.
Contact experienced criminal defense attorney Matthew D. Sharp if you’ve been accused of forgery or other white collar crimes.