Pittsburgh Forgery Attorney | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Forgery means you intentionally tried to defraud someone else using writing or printing. For example, if you create fake payroll checks on your computer and then deposit them in your checking account, you can be guilty of forgery. If you are questioned by the police or charged, it is essential that you hire an attorney to provide you with a strong defense. Call the Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 483-1802 right away.

Pennsylvania Forgery Laws

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to use forgery to facilitate fraud or injury with intent or knowledge. The kinds of forgery illegal in the Commonwealth include:

  • Altering the writing of another without their authority. For example, adding another zero to the birthday check your mother wrote you and then depositing it in your bank account.
  • Making, completing, executing, authenticating, issuing, or transferring the writing so it purports to be the act of someone else who didn’t authorize it, or completing a writing that has already been started when the original does not exist. In other words, claiming a written item is real when it’s a forgery. For example, creating fake credit cards and then using them to buy electronics.
  • Using writing you didn’t create and you know is fake, as if it were genuine. For example, you watched your friend create a fake car title and registration with their new design software, and although you know it is phony you use it to sell a car.

Which Items Are Illegal To Forge?

Paper writings aren’t the only items that are illegal to forge. Pennsylvania law broadly defines the items that fall under the jurisdiction of forgery, including:

  • Checks or money orders
  • Currency, both paper money and coins
  • Bonds or securities
  • Credit cards
  • Identification cards, such as a driver’s license
  • Academic transcripts
  • Wills
  • Titles or deeds
  • Contracts and other corporate documents
  • Trademarks
  • Badges
  • Stamps or seals
  • Tokens
  • Promissory notes
  • Medical prescriptions
  • Electronic signatures
  • Artwork or creative writings

Penalties for Forgery in Pennsylvania

Forging money (or something that purports to be money) or forging a government-issued document is a felony of the second degree. Forging legal documents is a felony of the third degree. All other forgeries are typically a misdemeanor of the first degree. However, these sentences and their punishments could be altered depending on whether it is your first forgery offense, as well as the mitigating circumstances surrounding the forgery case.

Generally, the sentencing guidelines for a person convicted of forgery are as follows in Pennsylvania:

  • Forgery Summary Offense: A lesser misdemeanor – for example, cashing a forged check under $200. The penalty for this offense would be up to 90 days in jail.
  • Third-Degree Forgery Misdemeanor: This applies to forged or bad checks cashed between $200-$500 dollars. The penalty for this offense is up to one year in prison.
  • Second-Degree Forgery Misdemeanor: Writing or cashing a fraudulent check between $500-$999 dollars. The penalty for this offense is up to three years in prison.
  • First-Degree Forgery Misdemeanor: Forging personal checks or cashing checks that a person is aware are bad, at a value of over $1000, usually falls under this category in the state of Pennsylvania. The penalty for this forgery offense is up to five years of jail time and a $10,000 fine.
  • Third-Degree Forgery Felony: Any person convicted of creating or using forged documents that involve a legal relationship of some kind, such as a will, contract, deed, or bank check will be sentenced under this level. The penalty for this forgery offense is up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
  • Second-Degree Forgery Felony: This penalty applies to forgeries involving legal documents issued by the government including but not limited to immigration forms, customs forms, postage stamps, or money (ie. counterfeiting), or if the forged documents involve bonds, stocks, or other securities of some kind. The penalty for this forgery offense is up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

If you are charged, you will have forgery on your criminal record and that will make it hard to get a good job. It will be especially difficult for you to have a career in government or banking. The statute of limitations on forgery cases is five years.

Contact a Forgery Defense Attorney if You Have Been Charged

If you have been charged with forgery in Pittsburgh, you should hire an experienced theft crimes lawyer to defend you. Being convicted of forgery could mean substantial fines, jail time, and a stain on your criminal record. You could lose your job or have a hard time finding a new one because of a misdemeanor or felony forgery conviction on your criminal record. Even an allegation can be life-shattering. You should speak with your defense attorney prior to speaking with law enforcement, federal or police investigators, and prosecutors.

Your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, our team will fight using the strongest defense available to get your theft charge reduced or dismissed so you can move on with your life.

Contact our Pittsburgh forgery defense lawyers at (412) 281-2146 or online.