Defending Felony & State Forgery Crimes in Texas
Forgery involves imitating, making, or creating documents in order to deceive others for criminal purposes. In cases involving real estate, banking, or corporate fraud, forgery can involve falsifying documents by changing numbers, altering existing records, or signing someone else’s name on a contract, check, or legal document.
Under §32.21 of the Texas Penal Code, forgery occurs when someone attempts to alter, authenticate, or write as though they were someone else or representing another without authorization. Under §32-21, the act of forgery also applies to the creation or copy of documents, printing money, the making of coins, seals, stamps, credit cards, badges, trademarks, ID cards, or symbols associated with certain rights and privileges.
Fines & Punishment for Forgery in Texas
Forgery is considered a class A misdemeanor according to § 32.21 (c) of Texas Penal Code. However, § 32.21 (d) makes an exception under which certain circumstances make check forgery a state jail felony. Check forgery is considered a state jail felony if:
“the writing is or purports to be a will, codicil, deed, deed of trust, mortgage, security instrument, security agreement, credit card, check, authorization to debit an account at a financial institution, or similar sight order for payment of money, contract, release, or other commercial instrument.”
Another exception under §32.21 (e) enhances the crime class to a third degree felony if the fraudulent writing includes money, stamps, securities, stocks, bonds, a government record or document (driver’s license, permit, other license, birth certificate, government seal, patent, proof of car insurance liability, court order).
Common Felony Forgery Charges
- forgery of money & U.S. currency
- postage stamps
- mortgage documents
- driver’s licenses
- ID cards
- deed of trust
If the fraud was committed against an elderly person, the crime is further enhanced to the next highest level of punishment than the default for the given situation. That means if it was considered a third degree felony originally but enhanced because the victim was over 65 years old, the crime (if convicted) would be a second-degree felony.
Depending on the circumstances of a case and the amount of money involved, even though check and credit card forgery can carry a misdemeanor charge, jail time is usually assigned.
Classifying Forgery Charges into SubClasses
There are many types of forgery charges in Texas, but they all have a common theme; intentional misrepresentation or actions taken to knowingly mislead someone, usually for financial gain. Texas Penal Code breaks forgery charges down into subclasses including:
- Criminal Simulation
- Trademark Counterfeiting
- Receiving or Cashing Stolen Checks
- Stealing Checks
Forgery Charge Subchapter C: Credit Forgery
- Credit Card & Debit Card Abuse
- False Statement to Obtain Property
- False Statement to Obtain Credit
- Hindering Secured Creditors
- Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle
- Credit Card Transaction Record Laundering
Forgery Sub-Chapter D: Other Deceptive Practices
- Issuance of Bad Checks
- Deceptive Business Practices
- Commercial Bribery
- Rigging Publicly Exhibited Contest
- Illegal Recruitment of an Athlete
- Misapplication of Fiduciary Property
- Misapplication of Property of Financial Institution
- Securing Execution of Document by Deception
- Fraudulent Destruction, Removal, or Concealment of Writing
- Simulating Legal Process
- Refusal to Execute Release of Fraudulent Lien or Claim
- Deceptive Preparation and Marketing of Academic Product
- Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information
- Fraudulent, Substandard, or Fictitious Degree
- Exploitation of Child, Elderly, Individual, or Disabled Individual
- Fraudulent or Fictitious Military Record
Proving Intention to Mislead or Defraud
In order to be convicted of forgery, the prosecution must prove that a defendant knowingly and intentionally acted in such a way so as to mislead or defraud others through his or her actions. While ignorance of the law is not a defense, changing contracts, endorsing a check for a business partner, or adjusting numbers on a report may be honest mistakes or instances of miscommunication. Problems arise when zealous state or federal prosecutors are convinced you’re guilty of forgery based on circumstantial evidence or hearsay testimony of others under investigation or indictment for other criminal charges.
Call Top Dallas Defense Attorneys: Clancy & Clancy
If you’ve been charged with forgery or are under investigation for forgery, Clancy & Clancy Attorneys at Law today. The sooner a fraud lawyer gets involved on your behalf, the better – even if you haven’t been charged yet. Protect your rights – give us a call today at (214) 550-5771 to schedule a confidential consultation regarding your case.