Se Habla Español | Available 24/7
Multilingual Staff | Available 24/7

Forgery Charge: Understanding the Consequences and Defense Strategies

Understanding Forgery Charges: Your Guide by Hirsch Law Group

Forgery is a serious crime in which someone falsely creates or alters a document to deceive. This act might involve a range of materials, from checks and certificates to bonds and wills. At its core, forgery distorts the truth, masquerading as a lawful authority.

Illinois forgery charges are very serious, as forgery is generally classified as a felony. The penalties are severe, depending on the type of document forged. As such, anyone facing a forgery accusation would need the timely intervention of a trained criminal defense attorney to fight the criminal system successfully.

At Hirsch Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing top-tier legal representation to the residents of over 20 counties in Illinois. If you are facing a forgery criminal charge, contact us immediately for a free initial consultation, and let us take your case from there.

Components and Forms of Forgery

Forgery typically encompasses several key components as can be deciphered from the provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statues:

  • Intent: The accused individual must have intended to commit fraud or deceive.

  • False writing: Creating a forged document involves producing a fake or altering an existing one.

  • Legal right: The document in question affects some legal rights, making its legitimacy crucial.

Common forms of forgery include altering checks, creating fake identification cards or licenses, or modifying legal contracts such as deeds and wills. A forged prescription, often aimed at unlawfully acquiring medications, is yet another example stressing the breadth of this offense. In many cases, simply possessing such fraudulent documents and intending to use them also constitutes a forgery charge.

To legally establish forgery, prosecutors must usually prove that the accused party had the intent to defraud someone or some entity. Securities, bonds, and even monetary instruments are not exempt; counterfeiting currency is also a well-recognized category of forgery, addressed under both state and federal law.

Illinois Vs. Federal Forgery Laws

You might wonder about the legal differences between state and federal laws. Illinois deems forgery a considerable offense. Under Illinois law, forgery can lead to significant legal consequences and varies depending on the nature of the forged document. A Class 3 felony for a generic forgery can result in 2-5 years of imprisonment. Forgery of a Universal Price Code Label incurs a lesser Class 4 felony charge. Meanwhile, forgery of academic degrees or coins falls under Class A misdemeanors with lesser penalties.

When we transcend state boundaries, issues such as interstate commerce or the counterfeiting of federal documents, such as military documents, amplify the stakes. Federal charges for forgery are severe. An accused person can face hefty fines, imprisonment for up to 15 years in a federal prison, or both. Federal law strictly prosecutes the alteration or creation of any federal-related papers, including treasury or postal, where the intention is to deceive or commit fraud, such as identity theft or art forgery.

Whether the fraudulent check or document crosses state lines determines whether the matter is handled under state or federal jurisdiction. This subtle nuance can significantly influence the course and consequences of a defendant’s journey through the legal system.

Consequences of a Forgery Conviction

Misdemeanor forgery charges generally result in less severe punishments, such as local jail time or probation. Forgery of a degree, a Class A misdemeanor, attracts a possible jail sentence of less than one year and a maximum fine of $2,500. Felony forgery, however, can attract jail time of up to 5 years and even 10 years with an extended sentence.

The ramifications of forgery on your criminal record should also not be underestimated. As your criminal record is a public record, it can hinder you from many opportunities academically, in employment, and in many other areas. Post-conviction, a forgery charge can continue to echo through your life. If you are convicted of felony forgery, you may also face restrictions similar to those experienced by other felons in Illinois, such as ineligibility for certain professional licenses.

Sentencing may also include probation, during which you must adhere to specific legal requirements or risk incarceration.

Defending Against a Forgery Charge

Facing a criminal forgery charge can be daunting, yet it’s vital to remember that several legal defenses are available. We understand the gravity of the situation and the nuances of building a robust defense strategy as skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys. 

Intent to Defraud

Firstly, if there is no intent to defraud, we can argue that the requisite mental state was absent. This lack of intent could stem from a genuine belief that the actions were lawful or a misunderstanding of the document’s nature.

Mistaken Identity and Misrepresentation

Mistaken identity is another avenue worth exploring. Sometimes, an individual might be wrongfully accused due to similarities in signature or a case of identity theft. We meticulously examine the circumstantial evidence to find inconsistencies or errors that might exonerate our clients.

Insufficient Evidence and Raising Reasonable Doubt

Our team delves into the prosecution’s case to highlight weaknesses, inaccuracies, or gaps in the evidence. By raising reasonable doubt about any element of the crime, we aim to prevent a conviction.

Services We Provide in Relation to Forgery Crimes

At Hirsch Law Group, our role begins with rigorous analysis, which often forms the prosecution’s cornerstone evidence. We scrutinize the document in question and the process through which it was allegedly forged to form a defense strategy that can unearth potential flaws in the prosecution’s case.

Our Services Provided Include:

  • Legal Representation – Defense in court against forgery charges

  • Defense Strategy Formation- Strategy development tailored to individual case details

  • Evidence Analysis – Examination of handwriting and other pertinent documentary evidence

  • Advocacy and Negotiation – Representation during plea negotiations and advocacy in trial

Reach Out Today for Your Forgery Charge Defense

Navigating through the complexities of a forgery charge requires a professional criminal defense lawyer who can help dissect and challenge the prosecution’s arguments. Employing an experienced criminal defense attorney can greatly benefit you, as they can leverage their extensive experience to identify the best approach for your situation.

At Hirsch Law Group, we take pride in providing criminal defense tailored to each case’s unique circumstances. We offer guidance, a defense grounded in facts, and a thorough understanding of the law, ensuring no stone is left unturned.

Should you find yourself grappling with the implications of a forgery charge, we urge you to consider a consultation with an experienced team like ours for tailored support on your case.