Forgery is one of those issues that are determined by the level of crime that was committed. It can be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor. Really won’t know which one until you look at what was stolen through the forgery and how the crime impacted the person who was stolen from. For example, forging a signature can impact someone’s business or company. Each state does it differently, which is why hiring a Seattle white collar crime attorney is the best course of action if caught up in this situation.
The law can get a little confusing at this level. Mistakes can happen as well, which would nullify whether something was a crime. The crime is more likely to face punishment if someone clearly committed a forgery for the purpose of misleading or stealing from a person or a business. Let’s take a quick look at the difference between whether the forgery committed is either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Forgery as a White-collar Crime Misdemeanor
When you think of a white-collar misdemeanor, you may think about someone is flubbing on their taxes, stealing money from the government, or creating some type of scheme that steals from a massive corporation. Usually, the big crimes involve millions of dollars, but forgery can happen on an incredibly small scale as well. That everything has to total millions of dollars to be considered forgery.
It really depends on what the state considers a misdemeanor or jury charge. Some states require the value stolen to be equal or less than $500. Some states say that the number is $1000. There is no set number and as such the prosecutor will have to sort through all of the evidence and proof that the person purposely defrauded someone else for the amount charged. There would have to be no doubt that the crime was committed.
Felony Forgery Charges
Even if a forgery charge is still considered a white-collar crime, it can still be tried as a felony. Felony forgery charges will both be very expensive when it comes to fines and there will most likely be a bit of prison time added in. It’s not just the prison time or fine, but it can also be ruled that the perpetrator gives full restitution to the victim for the total value of what was stolen.
Someone who stole money through filing fake paperwork, producing false documents, or even forging checks can seriously hurt someone’s financial situation. These types of crimes often leave the victims with nothing at all. All of their hard work in saving is gone out the window and as such a judge will most likely determine that the perpetrator offers full restitution. Still, not every state requires it, but that doesn’t mean the judge won’t ensure the victim is paid back.
What is Considered a White-collar Crime?
White-collar crime is often considered crimes that involve defrauding someone else, like using deceit to commit a crime. Forgery may not involve a case that defrauds someone else, but an entity like the government, but it is still a crime. Some states may have rules that say only crimes against individuals are considered white-collar, so that’s why it’s important to check with a white-collar criminal defense attorney to see what your state has to say on the matter.
Either way, it involves the full intent of stealing something, like someone’s data or money or falsifying information and altering your documents with deceitful intent. Again, we’ll use the example of someone lying on their tax returns. Forging someone’s signature to cash a check is also the same. Often times an expert will have to decide whether a crime is white-collar. It goes back to how the particular crime impacts the victim.
Forgery and Other Crimes
Forgery is often accompanied by other crimes. Just the act of forging someone’s signature is one crime while stealing their money is another. Theft would be included here. The forger would be stealing something of value from the victim. Many times, these crimes aren’t done alone, but with accomplices or other partners. They decide to work together to steal money from a person or entity and agree to share what was stolen.
Prosecuting a white-collar crime can be difficult. It might involve understanding complicated processes, like computer coding and/or an expert to determine without a doubt that paperwork has been forged. Expert witnesses may be hired to step in and help prove the case on the part of the prosecutor.
This is why it’s incredibly important to hire a white-collar criminal defense attorney to help defend the charges. The prosecution will use all the best tricks and technology to prove their case, so only a defense attorney can help inspire doubt in the minds of the jury overseeing the case. You would have to successfully challenge the evidence with expert opinions of your own. There are different defensive strategies to make that happen.
Proving a forgery case revolves around whether the prosecution can establish intent. Establishing intent isn’t always an easy thing to do and it will require a lot of work to do. The accused individual would have to prove they never intended to commit a crime in their actions. For example, if a forgery happened, but nothing was taken or stolen, then the jury would have to ask themselves if there was criminal intent.
If you’ve been charged with committing a white-collar crime, the best course of action is to hire a defense attorney who excels at defending against these types of charged. A lawyer will be able to navigate you through the process and help build your case. The burden of proof is always on the prosecutor.