Four Elements Needed To Prove Forgery

Law Blog

In simple English, forgery is the falsification of a document or form. In legal language, however, it means far much more than that. Here are the four elements that your actions must satisfy before you are convicted of forgery:

Alteration or False Creation of a Document

Creating a false document from scratch is one of the elements of forgery. Creating a document means manufacturing it by any possible means including typing, printing, or handwriting it. An example is typing a document and then claiming it to be a deceased person's will.

You don't have to create a document from scratch for you to be accused of surgery. Even the act of altering an existing genuine document counts as surgery. Alteration can be in the form of filling a form, changing the date on a document, or even signing a false name.

Capability to Defraud

It can only be labeled as such if the result closely resembles the genuine document that was being copied. The mere act of alteration or creation of a document doesn't make it a forgery. For example, it is difficult to be convicted of or even charged with forgery if you tear half a page from a scrapbook, write on it and claim it to be an identification card. However, you may be charged and convicted of the same if you type out and fill a card that closely resembles the real one.

Legal Significance

Forgery laws only apply to documents that can affect other people's legal rights. Examples of such documents include court records, property titles, currency, and identification cards. Therefore, printing a magazine that closely resembles an existing publication is not forgery. Of course, you may still face charges for the act, but they won't be forgery charges (you may be charged with counterfeit).

Intent to Defraud

Lastly, the intention of making the false document or alteration also comes into place. For it to be a forgery, you must have intended to deceive another person. For example, if you create a document that looks like a will so that you can use it to teach law students, then it is not forgery. However, you may be accused of forgery if you create a false will so that you can get access to a deceased person's estate.

If you have been accused of forgery, then some of the defenses available to you include lack of intent, coercion or lack of capacity. You need an experienced lawyer like Hardy & Associates Criminal Law Firm to mount a good defense because the court will not just take your word that you did not intend to defraud anyone.


3 February 2015