Forgery refers to the unlawful creation or alteration of a document or legal instrument with the express intention of defrauding or harming another party. It is a serious criminal offense in Texas. If you are arrested for forgery, you could be charged with a felony.
In this post, our knowledgeable white collar defense lawyers explain some of the most important things that you need to know about forgery laws in Texas.
Texas Forgery Laws: Understanding the Basics
Under Texas law (Texas Penal Code§ 32.21). forgery is defined as the “altering, making, completing, executing, or authenticating” of a written document in order to achieve a fraudulent purpose. This is a relatively broad statute that covers a wide range of specific offenses. Indeed, a defendant could be charged with forgery for doing anything from replicating another person’s signature to creating a wholly false document to carry out some type of fraud. Notably, intent is a required element of this crime.
The Penalties for Forgery in Texas
ln Texas, forgery can be charged as both a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the charges will always depend on the underlying facts of the case. One of the key factors is the nature of the document/legal instrument that was allegedly forged.
When forgery involves cash, stocks, bonds, or any other government records/documents, it can be charged as a third-degree felony offense. In Texas, a third-degree felony forgery conviction carries a maximum punishment of up to ten years in prison.
When forgery involves deeds, wills, checks, credit cards, contracts, or other financial instruments, it can be charged as a state jail felony offense. The maximum punishment for this type of felony is two years in the state jail.
If the alleged forgery involved other documents, it may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor offense.
While a forgery misdemeanor is a lesser charge, it is still a serious offense that could result in up to one year in the county jail.
Defenses to Forgery Charges
There are various defenses available in forgery cases. Whether any are applicable to your situation will depend on the specific facts. Some of the most common defenses to a forgery charge in Texas include:
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of false/altered written documents
- Lack of intent to defraud the alleged victim
- Good faith belief that the defendant was authorized to sign/create the document
Of course, Texas prosecutors always have the burden to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state cannot meet this obligation, then the charges may be dismissed or you can be found not guilty in a trial before a jury or judge. If you are facing forgery charges, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is highly recommended.
Get Legal Help Today
At Abrams Trial Law, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are prepared to review the charges against you and craft a personalized defense strategy to help protect your freedom and your future.
If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with forgery or any other type of fraud, we can help. Contact Abrams Trial Law to request a free, confidential consultation today.