So, what is forgery, legally speaking?
The Texas Penal Code defines forgery as “the alteration, manufacture, execution, or authentication of any writing such that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act, to have been executed at the time or place in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when there was no such original.”
That’s quite the mouthful, so we’ll sum it up for you in just a few words:
When you produce a written document and attempt to (or succeed at) passing it off as written or produced by another party, you are committing an act of forgery.
Today’s post outlines how forgery is legally defined and provides a few key pieces of information you need to know about this kind of crime in the event you are charged.
Forging Government-Issued Items in Texas
Forging any government-issued items will land you charges of felony in the third degree. This includes everything from postage stamps and paper money to a state or federally issued ID. Here is a short list of the most common forgeries under this category:
- Paper money
- Postage stamps
- Revenue stamps
- Birth certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Driver’s licenses
If convicted, you could face two to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Forging Contracts and Financial Documents in Texas
A state jail felony may be charged in cases where financials, estate documents, or other contracts and release forms are fabricated or falsely signed. Most often, this charge surfaces when the forgery involves one of these:
- Credit cards
- Payment Authorizations or Releases
Forgery crimes of this nature can incur a punishment of up to two years in jail and the same maximum fine as above.
Non-Felony Forgery in Texas
Any other document which is forged, but does not fall under the umbrella of either felony charge already listed is to be punished as a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas when prosecuted at a state level.
Because of the broad generalization of terms like “other commercial instrument,” which is named as one element that can be prosecuted as a state jail felony, there is room for court interpretation.
This is where it is imperative that you have skilled legal counsel and representation. These nuances of the law can mean the difference between a few months in jail and years of your life spent behind bars. Do not hesitate to reach out to someone.
Other Things You May Not Know about Texas Forgery, But Should
Every case is built around its own set of unique circumstances, and yours is no different. There are innumerable scenarios which can yield slight variations in the outcome of forgery charges. Here are three of them:
When convicted of forgery against an elderly person, the charges are automatically shifted up by one level and penalties will apply accordingly.
Because there are also federal laws which can apply to forgery crimes, you may be charged separately, and face both state and federal penalties.
Statute of Limitations
There is a statute of limitations for forgery crime in Texas. If an alleged act of forgery took place more than 10 years ago, you may no longer be charged.
If you aren’t seeing your exact situation covered within this article and need help sorting out your Texas forgery charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Fort Worth defense attorney specializing in forgery crimes.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.