What Constitutes As Forgery In Georgia?
The term “forgery” typically evokes scenes from a crime thriller, but the reality is that it’s a serious crime that can stem from a number of causes. Forgery charges arise from cases of producing or altering a document in order to deceive, whether it’s an individual, a business, or the state of Georgia. The severity ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony, and can lead to harsh criminal penalties.
The Clear Intent
The key to a fraud charge is the intent of the forgery. In order to be convicted, you must act with the intent to defraud a person, organization, or government agency. Creating a mockup of a death certificate as a joke for a friend’s birthday would not be considered fraud, but using that forgery in an official capacity would fall under fraud.
There are four degrees of fraud recognized by the state of Georgia, ranging from the most sever to the more minor infractions.
First and Second Degree
First and second degree charges are closely related. Any person who makes, alters, or possesses a piece of forged writing (forged checks do not fall under this category however). Forged documents can range from a drivers license to a convention badge. Georgia law describes forged documents as a written or printed document, as well as “money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks,” and other items of value or identification.
If a document has been made by a different person (real or fictional), at a different time than is listed on the document, contains different provisions from the original, or signed as someone else without their permission, it falls under second degree forgery.
First degree forgery charges arise from “uttering or delivering” a forged document. Using forged money, presenting a fake license, or altering names and dates on an official form and submitting will all result in first degree charges.
Third and Fourth Degree
The most common form of forgery is a result of check forgery. Any alterations made to a check, as well as possessing or trying to spend a forged check in the amount of $1,500 or more, or possessing ten or more forged blank checks. Fourth degree is considered a misdemeanor, but is still an incredibly serious offense. Passing a fraudulent check for under $1,500, or possession fewer than ten blank forged checks can result in an arrest. While the misdemeanor comes with a far less punitive sentence, if there have been three previous convictions for the same crime, the accused faces up to five years in prison.
Because of the serious nature of fraud, it’s important to always be honest and forthcoming when filling out official forms, and to never sign your name or take possession of any document you feel may be forged. If you are facing forgery charges, we can help.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.