What is Forgery?
Simply put, if you come across a checkbook that isn’t yours — and without the permission of the primary account holder, you decide to write a check — you’ve just committed forgery. In both Kansas and Missouri, forgery is a felony offense and can lead to serious consequences. Those consequences include the very real possibility that you may lose a job, professional license, or even your freedom.
The circumstances surrounding your case are likely more complex than those in the example above, but if you have been charged with forgery, do not take the accusation lightly. Contact The Watt Law Firm. Given our expertise in this area, we are routinely retained to handles these types of cases. In fact, we have had many of these cases reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed entirely.
What is Forgery?
Each state defines forgery little differently. But in summary, forgery is the making or alteration of a writing in order to give that writing qualities or value which it did not originally possess. Although forged checks are the most common examples, there are plenty of other scenarios that would apply, too.
Forgery in Missouri
The law surrounding forgery in Missouri is broad. If coupled with the intent to defraud someone else, these four acts constitute forgery:
- Making, completing, altering, or authenticating any writing so that it purports to have been made in any way other than initially intended;
- Erasing, obliterating, or destroying any writing;
- Making or altering anything other than a writing so that it purports to have untrue qualities; or using, possessing, or transferring a writing or other thing known to be altered or otherwise forged.
(See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.090 for full definition)
We have successfully handled cases covering virtually every kind of forgery imaginable — modified vehicle identification numbers (VINs), forged promissory notes, falsifying bail bond documents and court orders, placing a different photo on someone else’s identification card — we have handled it all.
The stakes tend to be the highest when one possesses or creates instrumentalities (equipment) used to commit forgeries.
(Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.100)
Both forgery and possession of forging instrumentalities are Class D felonies. A first-time conviction for either offense can include a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to 7 years.
(Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 570.090, 570.100, 558.002, 558.011)
Forgery in Kansas
In Kansas, forgery is the making, altering, or endorsing of a written instrument, with intent to defraud, such that it purports to be made:
- By someone else, whether real or fictitious;
- At a different time or with different provisions other than those authorized;
- Or with the authority of someone who did not give such authority.
This includes issuing, distributing, or possessing such forged, written instruments.
Forgery is a severity level 8, nonperson felony in Kansas. This means a conviction could result in up to 23 months in prison. Additionally, anyone convicted will be fined $500 (1st offense), $1,000 (2nd offense), $2,500 (3rd or subsequent offense), or the value of the forged instrument, whichever is less. Kansas law mandates a 30 day jail sentence for a second offense and a 45 day jail sentence for a third offense.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5823)
If you have been charged with forgery in either Missouri or Kansas, Contact The Watt Law Firm here today!