There are several types of forgery charges a defendant can be charged with. The basic premise behind forgery is an unlawful writing that a defendant uses with the intent to defraud.
The most common type is forgery by signature. In order to be convicted of forgery by signature, a defendant must sign someone else’s name knowing that he or she does not have the authority to sign that other name, with the intent to defraud. It is unnecessary that the defendant actually achieve the goal of defrauding. A common example of this would be endorsing the back of someone else’s check and attempting to cash it at a bank. The crime is completed once it’s been presented to the bank teller even if the teller refuses to honor the check. Another example would be signing a credit card slip for a credit card not in one’s own name.
A defendant can also be convicted of forgery by falsifying, altering or counterfeiting documents. A common example of this would be a defendant who had access to someone’s will and altered it for a greater share than what was originally left to him or her. Another example would be presenting a fake prescription at a pharmacy that a defendant wrote himself or herself.
A defendant can also be convicted of forgery for unlawful use of a “seal” (such as one used by the government or a corporation). The most common example of this type of forgery would be possession of fake identification. Most juries would find possession of the identification alone is enough to show intent to defraud (otherwise why would a defendant have it in the first place).
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