Florida Forgery Charges
In Florida, forgery is defined as falsely making, altering, or counterfeiting a public record, certificate, or notarized attestation. However, a person can only be convicted under Florida law, if the forged document was used in a matter where it was received as legal proof, such as a deed, will, bond, insurance policy, bill of exchange, promissory note, receipt, or ticket. Finally, the accused must also have intended to injure or defraud a third party. Forgery is charged as a third degree felony, which means that a defendant could face up to five years in prison for each count of which he or she is convicted. Because the stakes are so high, it is critical for those who have been accused of forgery to consult with an experienced white collar crime lawyer who can help defend their interests.
Commonly Forged Documents
While there are a variety of documents that, if altered or falsified, could support a charge of forgery, the most common include:
- Personal checks;
- Traveler’s checks;
- Money orders;
- Commercial checks;
- Titles to property;
- Checks issued by the state of Florida;
- Checks issued by the U.S. Treasury;
- Credit card invoices; and
- Stock certificates.
The instrument must also have some sort of legal significance as an order, receipt, bill of exchange, ticket, charter, deed, or promissory note.
Federal vs State Investigations
Although most forgery charges are investigated by state authorities, the Postal Inspector’s Office often steps in to conduct a joint investigation with the state if the case involves a check issued by the state of Florida or the U.S. Treasury. Subsequent charges can be prosecuted in either state or federal court.
Uttering a Forged Instrument
Accusations of forgery are often accompanied by other charges, such as uttering a forged instrument. A person can be charged with this offense if there is evidence that he or she published a forged, altered, or counterfeit instrument. However, prosecutors can only obtain a conviction if they can prove that the document was represented as being legitimate and true and that the defendant:
- Knew that the document was false, altered, forged, or counterfeited; and
- Had the intent to injure or defraud another person.
Under state law, it is not necessary for the prosecutor to prove that a defendant intended to use the document him or herself or to personally profit from it. Instead, it is enough to prove that a defendant intended that another person would use the document to defraud a third party. In many cases, prosecutors are not even required to disclose the identity of the victim who the defendant intended to defraud, as long as they can prove that someone would indeed have been defrauded.
Those who are convicted of this offense also face third degree felony penalties, which include a five year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine for each count.
Call Our Dedicated Miami Legal Team Today
Please call Miami white collar crime lawyer Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 if you have been charged with a forgery-related offense. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge.