Phoenix Forgery Lawyer
We Defend Those Accused of Every Type of Crime
Criminal Defense Attorney for Forgery Charges
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Forgery is one of the most common white-collar crimes. Since these crimes don’t involve violence against another person, they are often considered less severe. However, being accused of committing forgery can have serious consequences and change the course of a person’s life forever.
Don’t take these accusations lightly if you’ve been accused of forgery in Arizona. You need an experienced attorney to aggressively fight these forgery charges to avoid jail time and other legal and personal consequences. If you unknowingly were in possession of a forged legal document or other falsified documentation, you need knowledgeable legal representation.
Belén Olmedo Guerra provides an aggressive defense for every client she represents, no matter the crime. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, Belén knows what it takes to fight forgery charges so that you can get back to your life. You can rest assured that Belén and her legal team will do everything in their power to protect your rights and fight against a conviction. To schedule a free consultation with a top Phoenix criminal defense attorney, call the Belén Law Firm at (602) 715-0908 today.
Is Forging a Signature Illegal?
When we think about forging signatures, we often think about faking our parents’ names on a report card or permission slip. While faking a parent’s signature can end up getting you in trouble at home and school, forging a signature is a serious offense.
Forging a signature on any important legal document is illegal and considered forgery. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, the accused can either face misdemeanor or felony charges. Forging a signature for financial gain or causing loss to another is a serious offense punishable by jail or prison time.
What is Considered Forgery?
Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-2002, a person is guilty of committing forgery if they:
- Edit or create a written document or written instrument with the purpose of defrauding someone
- Possess a forged written instrument
- Attempt to pass off a forged written instrument or document with forged content in an attempt to defraud someone
A person is considered to act with the “intent to defraud” if they attempt to take or receive something of value from another person using:
To further explain ARS 13-2002, a written instrument is considered:
- Documentation, paper, or other instruments that consist of printed or written matter or the equivalency of; or
- Stamp, token, badge, seal, graphic image, trademark, access device, or any other evidence or symbol of right, value, identification, or privilege.
If a person is discovered to have in their possession a device or tool used for forgery, they will face charges under Arizona Revised Statute 13-2003, which outlines the possession or creation of forgery tools.
It’s important to note that forgery is different from counterfeiting and identity theft. Counterfeiting is defined under Arizona Revised Statute 44-1453 as reproducing labels, trademarks, intellectual property, etc. For example, copying a designer handbag using their trademarked logos is counterfeiting. Identity theft is outlined under ARS 13-2008 and involves a person taking the identity of another without their consent.
Examples of Forgery
The most common examples of forgery that the Phoenix criminal defense attorneys at the Belén Law Firm handle are:
- Credit card applications: Filling out a credit card application while pretending to be someone else or completing it on behalf of another person without their knowledge is illegal. Not only can this lower their credit score, but doing so is a misrepresentation of them and can lead to identity theft.
- Forging checks: Signing another person’s name on their personal check without approval or their knowledge is considered check fraud.
- Art: Faking a famous piece of artwork and claiming it’s the real thing is against the law.
- Prescription: Altering prescriptions provided by doctors to get higher doses or more refills is illegal. Addicts will often attempt this type of forgery in order to get more painkillers. Stealing and making copies of prescription pads is also illegal. In some cases, they may not forge a doctor’s signature but manipulate and reuse what has already been filled out while keeping the same signature.
- Government identification: Creating fake government identification is more than just an underage teenager pretending to be 21. Falsified government documentation also includes passports, immigration documents, and more.
- Misrepresenting data on financial applications and loans: Lying about making a larger income, employment, property ownership, and tax obligations are all acts of forgery.
- Checks from closed accounts: Knowingly writing a check that comes from a closed account is illegal.
If you’ve been wrongfully accused of any of the above crimes, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing your case. To discuss your forgery charges with one of Phoenix’s leading criminal defense lawyers, contact the Belén Law Firm today.
Is Forgery a Federal Crime?
Forgery is a crime that is illegal at both the state and federal levels. The United States Code, Title 18, Section 471 defines forgery as any act of deceit that is done so by producing, copying, or imitating documents or objects.
The charges and punishment of a forgery case are determined by the seriousness of the crime and who the party was being defrauded. The documents and monetary amounts that were defrauded will also decide which law enforcement agency will investigate and handle the case.
So if the offense were a minor fraudulent activity like faking a person’s signature on a check for a small amount of money, it would most likely be handled by state and local law enforcement. If fraud is committed against the government or a government document is forged, federal law enforcement will most likely handle the offense.
Facing potential federal charges is a very serious matter which requires the best legal representation. As a federal criminal defense lawyer, Belén and her team will discuss your charges and evaluate your case in order to provide you with a top defensive strategy.
What is the Punishment for Forgery in Arizona?
Arizona law considers most forgery cases Class 4 felonies punishable by a fine, jail time, and probation. The typical prison sentence for a Class 4 felony is two and a half years, but it can be increased or decreased depending on the seriousness of the crime. The maximum sentence a person can receive for a forgery conviction is three years and nine months, a $150,000 fine, and probation for three years.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney When Facing Forgery Charges
You need the best Phoenix legal defense if you’re facing forgery charges. Phoenix white collar crimes attorney Belén Olmedo Guerra will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your accusations are false and you do not deserve to be punished for a felony you didn’t commit.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you prove one of the following:
- There was no intent to defraud: Individuals are only considered guilty of forgery if they had the intent to defraud another. Your defense attorney will prove that you had no intention to commit fraudulent acts. For example, if you made a document that accidentally includes false information and never intended to use the document to gain something from another person fraudulently.
- False accusation: Forgery is often considered a white-collar crime since it can entail business or legal operations occurring in the workplace. Falsely accusing someone of forgery can happen in order for the guilty party to place the blame on another. Your defense lawyer will prove your innocence in this forgery case and help find the true guilty party.
- Constitutional rights were violated: Individuals can fight forgery charges if their constitutional rights were violated. If the police coerced a confession, conducted an unlawful search or seizure, or arrested the individual without probable cause, they violated the constitutional rights of the accused party.