What Is Forgery?
Forgery is a crime that is against state and federal law. Forgery laws state that it is illegal to sign someone else‘s name without their permission or to do it with the intent to deceive them. Under federal law, there are multiple laws that deal with forgery in different situations. Some examples of federal forgery law include:
- 15 USC 1644 – prohibits the fraudulent use of credit cards when it involves interstate commerce and the value of the dealings is over $1,000 in a one-year period
- 18 USC 498 – prohibits forgery of military discharge certificates
- 18 USC 1543 – prohibits the forgery of passports
There are other forgery statutes that might apply to your case. Some cases are brought if they are committed within a maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. Examples of places like this include military bases and embassies around the world. Any forgery that takes place on federal land can result in a federal forgery charge.
Federal forgery cases are investigated by several different agencies, including the FBI, DOJ, US Postal Inspection Service, and the SEC among others. Federal criminal forgery cases arising in New Jersey are authorized and prosecuted by an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
What Are the Common Types of Forgery?
Forgery can take place in many forms, and some of the most common types include:
- Signature forgery – this type of forgery involves someone replicating someone else‘s signature.
- Prescription forgery – this type of forgery involves someone committing fraud with a prescription so they can get a drug illegally.
- Art forgery – this type of forgery involves someone selling knockoff art as genuine due to a false artist signature.
Other common federal forgery cases arise when someone is alleged to falsify or alter a government-issued document such as an ID, military paperwork, and immigration documents.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Forgery?
A conviction for federal forgery can result in up to 20 years in federal prison, and the court can also order restitution and fines to be paid. Courts review the federal criminal sentencing guidelines and equitable factors listed under Title 18, Section 3553(a) of the US Code to decide on an appropriate sentence. The sentence that is calculated from using the sentencing guidelines is not required to be used by the court but can serve as an appropriate baseline in deciding a sentence.
Judges will look at many factors, both positive and negative, when deciding a final sentence in a case. Common factors that are considered include the defendant's criminal history, evidence of character, and likelihood to be rehabilitated. If restitution is required to be paid, then the court will determine the appropriate amount that is owed and order the defendant to pay.
What Are Some Common Defenses Against a Forgery Charge?
Forgery requires a specific intent to defraud someone. It requires the defendant to have a state of mind that they are deceiving someone to obtain money or property that they know they are not entitled to. A forgery conviction can be obtained if a prosecutor proves that the defendant intended to commit forgery in order to defraud someone out of money or property.
If you did not intend to defraud anyone, then this can be used as a defense against forgery. If you are coerced or forced to commit forgery by someone else, then that can also be used as a defense against forgery. It is important to determine which defenses are best in your situation before deciding what to do in your case.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
If you have a federal criminal case, then it will be heard in a federal district court according to where the alleged crime arose. The state of Pennsylvania has three federal districts known as the Central, Middle, and Eastern District Courts. Cases will be heard in the court closest to where the alleged activity took place.
If you decide to appeal a decision or ruling in your case, then you will need to file your appeal with the appropriate appellate court. For cases arising in Pennsylvania federal district court, appeals are heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Supreme Court is the only court higher than the court of appeals, and most cases are not heard in the Supreme Court. Most cases result in final decisions either at the district court or appellate level.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for a federal crime, then having an experienced federal criminal defense on your side can be invaluable. Your attorney can help evaluate your case and help you determine and advance your best defenses. If you want to go to trial, then it is your choice to do so, but make sure that you have an attorney who has appropriate trial experience. If a plea deal is the best option in your case, then your attorney can help negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor and judge.
Your attorney can also give you their take on the strength of any offer and whether or not you should agree to it. If you have legal questions, then contact us at The Lento Law Firm today so we can help!
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for an alleged act of forgery, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.