What Is Forgery?
Forgery is a crime under both state and federal law, and it involves signing someone else's name without authority or with fraudulent intent. Under federal law, there are many different federal statutes that deal with forgery in different situations. Some examples of federal forgery statutes include:
- 15 USC 1644, which criminalizes the fraudulent use of credit cards when it involves interstate commerce and the value of the transactions is over $1,000 in a one-year period.
- 18 USC 498 deals with forgery of military discharge certificates
- 18 USC 1543 makes it a federal crime to forge passports
This is not a complete list of federal forgery statutes. Federal forgeries can also be committed within the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” which includes certain places like military bases or embassies abroad. If a forgery occurs on federal land or within a federally run property, then a federal forgery charge can follow.
There are many federal agencies that investigate federal forgeries. These agencies include the FBI, the SEC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. In New Jersey, federal criminal cases are 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?
There are several different types of forgery. Some examples of the common types of forgeries include:
- Signature forgery: this involves someone copying someone else's signature
- Prescription forgery: this involves someone altering a prescription or forging a doctor's signature or prescription so they can get a controlled substance illegally
- Art forgery: this involves someone putting an artist's name on art to make it look like it is original when it is not
There are many different types of federal forgeries, but some of the most common forgeries include when someone falsifies or alters government-issued documents like IDs, military documents, and immigration documents.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Forgery?
If someone is found guilty of federal forgery, then they can face up to 20 years in federal prison and be required to pay restitution and fines. The judge will review the federal criminal sentencing guidelines and the equitable factors within Title 18, Section 3553(a) of the US Code to determine an appropriate sentence. The resulting sentence that is calculated by the guidelines is not automatically binding but can serve as an appropriate starting point to determine a person's sentence.
In determining a sentence, the court will evaluate any aggravating and mitigating factors about the defendant and the case. This includes a review of the defendant's history and character and how being in jail will affect their dependents. The court will also determine if the defendant must pay restitution and the appropriate amount.
What Are Some Common Defenses Against a Forgery Charge?
For an act to be considered a forgery, it must involve the intent to defraud. This means that the person committing the act intends to deceive someone and receive something they know they are not otherwise entitled to. All laws that prohibit forgery have this requirement in common: examining the mindset of the accused when the act of forgery was committed. For a prosecutor to convict someone of forgery, they must prove that the accused intended to commit forgery in order to defraud someone.
Not having a criminal intent to defraud is a complete defense to a charge of forgery. This defense can be advanced by presenting evidence showing your intentions while questioning any witnesses who allege fraudulent intent. If you were forced to commit forgery or committed forgery with the help of the person who is accusing you, then these can also serve as defenses that can be used to reduce or eliminate the charges against you. Make sure that you understand your best defenses for your situation.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Federal criminal cases are heard in federal District Courts that are located all over the United States. In New Jersey, there is one federal district and three physical courts in different locations within the district. If you are accused of a federal crime in New Jersey, then the case will be heard in the nearest court to where the alleged crime occurred.
If you lose a decision or verdict in a federal district court in New Jersey, then you can file an appeal with the appropriate appellate court. Any appeals of a New Jersey District Court decision or verdict must go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only court higher is the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only hears cases that it decides to hear and decide. There is no automatic right to have your case heard in the United States Supreme Court.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are facing federal criminal charges, then make sure that you have an attorney with specific federal criminal defense experience. If you are charged with a crime, then an experienced federal criminal defense attorney can help you understand the case against you and the potential penalties. An attorney can also explain your case's strengths and weaknesses and can help you decide whether to go to trial or work out a plea deal. If you have questions, then contact us at The Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for alleged 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 at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.