Forgery is a serious criminal offense in Pennsylvania. Those who are convicted of this crime can face significant penalties, including jail time, fines, and damage to their reputation, and one of these convictions can also be used against an individual in future legal matters to show that he or she lacks truthfulness. So, there is often a lot at stake when an individual is charged with forgery, which is why they need to understand the law as fully as possible, how it applies to their situation, and how best to use it to their advantage.
Under Pennsylvania law, forgery occurs when an individual alters the writing of another without that individual's consent, creates a writing and presents it as if it were the writing of another, or uses a writing he or she knows to be forged. Before a conviction can be obtained, though, the prosecution must show that the defendant committed one of these acts with the intent to defraud or harm another. In many cases forgery is seen when individuals pass of checks that are purported to be payable to them, when in fact those checks are either fake or the signature was forged.
The crime of forgery is considered a second degree felony if the writing in question concerns the issuance of money, securities, stamps, or other documents issued by the government. If the writing in question is a will, deed, contract, or similar document, then a forgery is considered a third degree felony. All other instances of forgery are deemed misdemeanors.
A criminal conviction of any kind can have significant ramifications for Pennsylvania residents. This is why they should carefully think about how best to protect themselves from aggressive prosecutors who seek to impose the harshest of penalties. Those who want to learn more about how to best defend themselves in these circumstances can speak with a criminal defense attorney they trust.