Forgery in Massachusetts
What is considered forgery in Massachusetts?
There are many different kinds of forgery. Often, you will see criminal charges for forgery based on a forged check or other financial document. However, it is also a crime to forge a number of different legal documents including public records, notarizations, and court records. It is a crime to forge a will or deed. Making a forged check or a forged credit card is a violation of the forgery law. It is against the law to forge, alter, falsely make, or counterfeit any of the following documents:
- Public record
- Public certificate
- Return or attestation of a clerk or register of a court, or public register
- Certificate of a notary public
- Return of a justice of the peace, town clerk or any other public officer
- Bond or writing obligatory
- Power of attorney
- Insurance Policy
- Bill of lading
- Bill of exchange
- Promissory note; or an order
- Acquittance or discharge for money or other property
- Credit Card
- Traveller’s Check
- An acceptance of a bill of exchange
- An endorsement or assignment of a bill of exchange
- Promissory note for the payment of money
- An accountable receipt for money, goods or other property
- Stock certificate
- Title to property (or evidence of a title to property)
- Certificate of title (or duplicate)
- Certificate issued in place of a duplicate certificate of title
- The registration book, entry book, or any indexes dealing with the Registration of Land
What are the laws against forgery in Massachusetts?
Forging any of the listed documents alone is not enough for someone to be found guilty of Forgery. To be guilty, the prosecution also must prove the forger’s intent. It is only a crime to forge these documents if it is done with the intent to injure or defraud someone (or a company, agency, or other legal entity).If someone forged one of these documents, with the intent to injure or defraud, they can be found guilty of the crime forgery.
Sometimes, the police or District Attorneys Office may try to prosecute someone for forgery based on “circumstantial evidence.” This means that they do not have a witness or video that saw the person forging the document, but they may try to prove the forgery using other types of evidence and circumstances that can lead a judge or jury to infer that the person is guilty of forgery. For example, if someone uses a forged check, and the handwriting on the check matches the handwriting of the person using the check, they can try to prosecute that person for forgery even though they have no witnesses saying that they saw the person filling out the check.
What can I expect if I am arrested for forgery?
If you have been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for forgery, the police have already done a lot of work and collected evidence against you.The police may try to interview you about what happened. Always be careful when you are speaking to police about these or any criminal charges. You do not have to speak to them and, typically, they are only looking for you to incriminate yourself. You always have the right to have a lawyer with you before answering police questions.Police may also apply for a search warrant to look for evidence in your home or place of business.
Once you find out that you have been charged with forgery, are arrested for forgery, or are being investigated for forgery, police have likely already spoken to witnesses, viewed videos, obtained records, and collected other evidence against you. It is important to contact attorneys and begin developing your defense right away.
What constitutes a forgery charge to be a misdemeanor or a felony?
Forgery is a felony. Regardless of what was forged or the value of any property at issue, forgery is treated as a felony in Massachusetts. It is a crime that is taken very seriously.
What penalties can I be facing if I am convicted of forgery?
There are several different sections in the forgery statute and the penalties vary depending on how it is charged. No matter how it is charged, forgery is always serious and always carries the potential for a lengthy state prison sentence. Some sections of the forgery law can result in up to 10 years in State Prison. If you are found guilty of forgery under other sections of the law, you can face up to Life in Prison. This is a serious crime, taken seriously by police and prosecutors. You have to treat your defense just as seriously.
What is the difference between forgery and uttering?
Yes. These charges are related, and often someone will be charged with both forgery and uttering. However, they are both separate crimes and each carries their own penalties.
Forgery is the making of a fraudulent item. Uttering is the passing of the forged item. For example, oftentimes you will see these charges together when someone is accused of passing a forged check. Filling out the check is forgery. Cashing or using the check is uttering.
This is a technical area of the law and can often be mischarged. We have successfully filed and argued motions to dismiss when our clients have been charged with forgery and uttering. A person cashing a forged check can often be charged with forgery. Unless there is some evidence that the person passing the check is the person who wrote the check, that charge should be dismissed.
Each case is unique. However, when someone is charged with forgery and/or uttering the case should be examined carefully to see if that person is properly charged, or if some or all of the charges should be dismissed. Even if the charges for uttering and forgery are correctly charged, there can be many effective defenses for these types of crimes.
Why you should hire a forgery defense attorney:
Forgery is serious crime and carries the potential for a significant jail sentence in Massachusetts. You need attorneys who will fight for you and court, and have the experience and skills necessary to put forward the best defense against forgery charges.
We have had forgery charges dismissed for our clients. Oftentimes, people will be improperly charged with forgery. The difference between forgery, uttering, larceny, and other white collar offenses can be complicated and technical. Sometimes, the police or prosecutor will incorrectly charge someone with forgery or other offenses. An experienced forgery attorney will be able to analyze your case and determine if a motion to dismiss should be written and argued before the court.
Forgery charges will always involve documents and other records. These records can often be challenged in court. The rules of evidence require that business records be ordered and handled in certain ways. If this procedure is not followed, those records may be challenged and kept out of your case. If the records are successfully challenged, that may result in your case being dismissed or a finding of not guilty.
Police will try to get a confession in forgery cases. An experienced lawyer may be able to argue a motion to suppress a confession and prevent the prosecutor from using it against you in court.
Oftentimes, a case can be defended on the element of “intent.” Showing that you forged a document is not enough. The prosecution also must prove that your intent was to done with the intent to injure or defraud someone. We have seen cases where a person gives our client permission to fill out a check, and then changes their story. We have seen cases where our clients had no idea that the document was forged, but was improperly charged with forgery. Experienced forgery lawyers who have successfully handled countless forgery, larceny, and fraud charges will be able to put forth the best defense in your forgery case.