Forgery Laws In Florida
You have probably heard of people forging signatures, which means signing someone’s name other than their own on a document, to make it look like someone else signed the document. Under Florida law, the definition of the crime of forgery involves producing fake documents in a way that makes them appear genuine, with the intent of defrauding the recipient of the document when such deception would cause financial or legal harm to the recipient. Forgery is a serious crime in Florida; if you are convicted of forging documents, your sentence can include up to five years in prison, up to five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Forgery is only one of several crimes recognized under Florida law that involve falsified documents and misrepresentations in written form. If you are being accused of forgery or uttering of forged documents, contact an Orlando white collar crimes lawyer.
Defenses to Charges of Forgery or Uttering of Forged Documents
The penalties for forgery and for uttering of forged documents are the same, but the definitions of those crimes are different. Charges of forgery apply if the defendant created a falsified document with intent to defraud the recipients. Charges of uttering of forged documents apply if you distributed the document (such as by publishing or selling it) or presented it to the intended victim, whether or not you manufactured the falsified document. In some instances, you can receive criminal charges both for forgery and for uttering of forged documents.
In order for the charges to apply, the prosecution must prove that you intended for the victim to believe that the document was genuine, that the defendant could have reasonably believed that the document was genuine, and that you meant for the victim to suffer measurable harm. Therefore, forgery charges do not apply in the cases of the following fake documents:
- A fake love letter from Mickey Mouse
- A fake love letter from someone the victim has a crush on
- Fake Monopoly money or other obviously fake banknotes (such as “bunny bucks” with a picture of the Easter Bunny in the middle)
- A certificate of ownership of a purebred haggis
The fake letter from the victim’s crush could be considered harassment, but the others are obviously fictional, and recipients of the documents would reasonably interpret them this way.
Other Criminal Offenses That Involve Falsified Documents
Other offenses besides forgery and uttering of forged documents can involve the falsification of documents or records. For example, if you make false statements on income tax returns, you can be charged with tax fraud. If you falsify the accounting records of your business, you can get charged with money laundering. Charges of mail fraud or wire fraud can also apply in cases involving falsified documents.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for forgery, uttering of forged documents, or another offense involving falsified documents. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.