When documents are forged, there can be significant consequences to the individual who forged them—as well as to businesses, government entities or other groups who are impacted. Because of this, forgery is a very serious crime in Washington.
WHAT IS FORGERY?
A counterfeit crime is a type of fraud that involves what the criminal law calls a “written instrument” – a document, form, petition, or application or any device, token, symbol, or badge of authority or identification.
Forgery occurs when someone creates, alters, or uses a false document with the intent to injure or defraud someone. The way that this law is defined means that even if someone uses or intends to use a document that they know to be falsified with the intent to injure or defraud someone, that person can be charged with forgery. It does not matter whether the individual was the one to actually create the false document. Usually, counterfeit cases involve signing a fake signature or dishonestly changing another part of a document for monetary gain.
If you face criminal charges for forgery in the Seattle area, contact experienced Seattle forgery lawyer Kevin Trombold at once. Defense lawyer Kevin Trombold has more than two decades of experience representing clients accused of forgery and other financial crimes. He can examine the charges against you and fight to bring your counterfeit case to its best possible conclusion.
ELEMENTS OF FORGERY
To prove that the defendant has committed forgery, the prosecution must prove all elements of forgery. First, the prosecutor must show that the defendant falsely made or altered a document or knowingly possessed or attempted to use a falsified document.
Next, the prosecutor must show that the document that was allegedly falsified was of legal significance and that the writing on the document was false. To be legally significant, the document must have affected a person’s legal rights or obligations in some way. For example, signing someone else’s name on a birthday card is not forgery because the card is not legally significant. However, a marriage license is of legal significance because it alters a person’s legal rights. Therefore, falsifying a marriage license would be considered counterfeit.
To show that the writing was false, the prosecution must prove that the writing was intentionally altered or fabricated to make the victim believe that the document represented something it did not.
Finally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted with the intent to defraud or injure the victim. The definition of forgery only requires that there is an intent. This means if you intended to defraud someone through forgery, but were not successful, you may still be charged with forgery. This protects people who are unaware that a document is falsified from being charged, since these people have no intent to defraud anyone.
If the defense can show that the defendant did not have the knowledge that the document was falsified or the intent to defraud, charges may be dropped. The defendant may have been unaware of the consequences of falsifying a document and did not have intent to defraud or injure anyone. Or, the defendant could have been unaware that the document in his possession was falsified and therefore should not be charged with forgery. Another strategy would be to show that the defendant was coerced into falsifying the document under the threat of harm to themselves or their loved ones.
The defense strategy that will be used for you will depend heavily on the circumstances surrounding your case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with forgery, speak to an experienced Seattle forgery attorney at the Law Offices of Kevin Trombold as soon as possible. Our team of attorneys will immediately begin to investigate the details of the charges against you, and work to develop a sound defense strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
FIGHTING ON YOUR BEHALF
Forgery is a Class C felony in the state of Washington. If you are convicted of counterfeit and it’s your first criminal offense, you could serve sixty days in jail and pay a fine of up to $10,000. However, if you have prior convictions, you could serve up to eighteen months in prison on a forgery conviction.
The criminal consequences are not the only ones that you will face if you are convicted of forgery. After a conviction, it may be almost impossible to find employment, since employers will not want to take a chance on someone who has been previously convicted of falsifying important legal documents.
If you are convicted of forgery, the victim may also file a civil lawsuit against you to recover damages. This means you will not only face criminal penalties, but also the possibility of having to pay the victim restitution for the crime that you have committed.
Forgery is considered to be a crime of dishonesty. Because of this, forgery carries a social stigma that could alienate you from friends, family and co-workers. Just being charged with forgery could lead to your loved ones treating you differently.
Remember, of course, that a prosecutor must prove your criminal connection to forged documents – your guilt, that is – beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction, and experienced Seattle forgery lawyer Kevin Trombold will fight to cast doubt on the state’s evidence and witnesses.
SERVING THE SEATTLE AREA
A forgery charge can ruin your life for years to come unless you get help fast from the right criminal defense attorney. Experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney Kevin Trombold and his legal staff work swiftly and aggressively to investigate criminal cases and to protect the rights of clients. With over twenty years of experience and a reputation for legal excellence respected by Seattle-area judges, prosecutors, and peers, criminal lawyer Kevin Trombold routinely wins not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and reduced charges. If you are charged with forgery or any other criminal offense in or near the Seattle area, contact the Law Offices of Kevin Trombold by calling 206-382-9200 as quickly as possible for a no-cost initial consultation.