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What is Forgery In Texas?

Forgery in the state of Texas means to alter, complete, execute or authenticate any type of writing so it appears to claim to be the action of another who did not authorize the action. Also, if the forgery claims to appear to be completed at the time, place or in a numbered sequence other than what it should have been. This includes claiming to change, alter, authenticate or execute any copy of the original when there was no original that existed to start with.

The Texas Penal Code 32.21 then goes on to define writing as printing or any other method of recording information. Examples included are: money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges and trademarks. Also symbols of value, right, privilege or identification.

In short, when you produce a written document and attempt or succeed at passing it off as written or produced by another party, this is committing forgery. The intent of the defendant is the key element that is required for this crime.

Examples of Forgery

If someone was to sign a check with someone else's name, this is considered a forgery, as you are claiming someone else made the purchase. Another one would be cashing a forged check at the bank or creating a fake deed or other real estate documents; this is a state jail felony. If you are supplying people with a fake driver's license or are forging something as uncommon as postage stamps, this is considered a third-degree felony. If you are forging a deed of trust or will, this is considered a state jail felony. Non-felony forgery is only punishable as a class A misdemeanor and this can be anything else that does not fall under the umbrella of forging government documents or contracts and financial documents.

What is the Punishment?

A person commits this offense if he or she were to forge writing with the intent of defrauding or harming another person. This is a non-felony forgery and it is classified as a misdemeanor class A. Which is confinement in jail for up to a year, fines that do not exceed $4,000 or both jail and fines.

It is considered a state jail felony if the forged writing is government-issued documents that consisted of forging contacts and financial documents. For instance, a will, deed, deed of trust, mortgage check and more. The punishment for this is state jail time for up to two years but a minimum of 180 days and fines up to $10,000.

A felony of the third degree is considered when the forged writing claims to be a part of an issue of money, securities, postage or revenue stamps. Or if the writing is a government record such as licenses, certificates, permits, seal titles, letters of patent or similar documents issued by the government, another state or by the United States in general. The consequence for this is prison for 10 years with a minimum sentencing of two years and fines may be included up to $10,000.

If Found Guilty at Trial

These consequences are only for committing the act alone, if at court you are found guilty of the crime, there may be additional charges that apply. These additional punishments are as follows:

A class C misdemeanor applies if the value of the property or service is less than $100. The consequence holds a fine up to $500.

A class B misdemeanor applies if the value of the property or service is between $100 and $750. The consequence for this is up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

A class A misdemeanor applies if the value of the property or service is between $750 and $2,500. The consequence is up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000 or both a fine and jail time.

A state jail felony applies if the value of the property or service is between $2,500 and $30,000. The consequence is up to 18 months to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A felony of the third degree applies if the value of the property or service is between $30,000 and $150,000. The consequence for this is up to two to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

A felony of the second degree applies if the value of the property or service is between $150,000 and $300,000. The consequence for this is up to two to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

A felony of the first degree applies if the value of the property or service is more than $300,000. The consequence for this is a minimum of five years to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Enhanced Penalties

If the offense was committed against an elderly person who is over the age of 65 and was proven at trial, the punishment is then increased to the next higher category.

Also, there could be enhancements if the offender had prior convictions; the exact enhancement depends on the offense level committed currently and the previous convictions. The number of convictions the defendant had previously can also play a role in the enhancement penalties. Both habitual felons and misdemeanants can face enhanced penalties in Texas and not only will the offense level increase but there may be an imposed mandatory minimum sentence.

Proving a Forgery

In order for the prosecutor to secure a conviction for forgery, they need to prove the defendant knew the writing or instrument used to forge was intended to defraud or harm another.

For instance, if the defendant acquired a forged $100 bill not knowing it was forged went to try to deposit it in the bank. Then the defendant did not commit forgery as he or she did know the bill was a fake.

The prosecutor must also be able to prove the defendant committed the forgery with the intent to defraud or harm someone. For example, the prosecution can show a forged document the defendant may or may not have submitted to a bank or government office to obtain some benefit financially or cause legal problems. The intent is the only thing that needs to be proven in court, the prosecutor does not need to show if harm occurred.

Statute of Limitation and Defense Against Forgery Charges

In the state of Texas, there is a statute of limitation against forgery, if the offense took place more than 10 years ago, then you are no longer able to be charged.

A general defense a defendant can raise when they are charged with forgery is mistaken identity. If the person who committed the forgery was not you, you will need to provide substantial proof you are innocent. Another defense is a lack of false or altered written documents. If someone is trying to frame you for forgery and there is a lack of documentation proof from the prosecution, you can use this to your defense advantage and further prove your innocence.

Remember, the prosecution always has the burden of proof and will need to convince the court if the charges are beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can not meet the obligation, then the charges can be dismissed or you can be found not guilty in a trial before a judge or jury.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable Criminal Law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that will benefit you.

We offer complimentary consultations via Zoom, on the phone or in-person.

Call us today at: 281-810-9760.

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