If you mistakenly thought that forgery wasn’t anything serious, think again. Otherwise referred to as “uttering a false instrument,” a Texas forgery has many aspects to it that may land you hefty fines and years in prison.
The most basic and widely known illustration of forgery is replicating someone else’s signature without permission. As much as this applies, there are still far more elements to a Texas forgery.
Under the Texas Penal Code, “forge” and “writing” have a wide spectrum of meanings. Forge can refer to altering, making, completing, executing, authenticating, issuing, transferring, registering, passing or publishing any writing. Writing, in this sense, pertains to money, tokens, coins, stamps, seals, badges, trademarks, credit cards, and any other means to record information, or symbols of privilege, value, identification or right.
A forgery conviction in the state relies on proving that the accused both have knowledge of the forged writing and the intent to defraud or cause harm.
The classifications of a Texas forgery crime and their corresponding penalties depend on the kind and value of the writing in consideration. Felony-level charges are punishable by:
- State jail felony, 18 months to two years in prison and up to $10,000 fine: If writing is a will, deed, deed of trust, codicil, security instrument, check, credit card, contract, release, any commercial instrument, and authorization to debit a financial account or make a monetary payment
- Third-degree felony, two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine: If writing is a state- or national-issued instrument, money, securities, a government record, stocks, bonds, and postage or revenue stamps
On the other hand, misdemeanors have less severe penalties, ranging from a maximum of one-year imprisonment to as much as a $4,000 fine, or both.
Additionally, enhanced penalties also apply if the forgery crime’s victim is elderly or if the accused has prior criminal convictions.
Forging ahead to a secure future
There are also possible legal defenses if you or a loved one are facing forgery allegations. You may think your situation is a case of mistaken identity, someone’s trying to frame you or you genuinely believe in good faith that you have authority for your actions. Thus, given your circumstances, you would need a legal team to counsel you on how to proceed.