When most people hear the word “forgery,” they may think of famous works of art reproduced, and the fakes replaced or sold as the real thing. But forgery has a number of different meanings, all of which can mean jail time for the person caught.
Forgery involves creating an imitation of an object of value, including a document, a signature, or other item with the sole intent of committing some kind of fraud for gain. This can include things like driver’s licenses and ID cards, birth certificates and other official documents, prescriptions, as well as things like contracts. One of the most common forms of forgery is when someone signs another person’s name on a check or has a fake ID printed.
Forgery may also be part of identity theft, and may also be used to charge someone.
Is Forgery A Felony?
North Carolina considers nearly any form of forgery as a felony, since it’s a form of fraud, whether you created, altered or possessed something that was counterfeit under N.C. Gen. Stat. § §14-119-125. Even if you are unsuccessful at defrauding someone with a type of forgery, but had the intent to do so, you can still be charged with a crime, most of which can result in fines and jail time.
“Uttering” a forged document means that you sold it, attempted to sell it, put it into circulation, or otherwise intend to pass it off as the genuine article with the intent to defraud another individual.
Class 1 Felony charges are for forged checks and other related financial instruments (such as corporate securities), as well as uttering a forged document, and will bring three to twelve months in prison for a first offense, plus fines. If you have more than five of these forged documents in your possession, that charge becomes a Class G felony, bringing ten to twenty-five months in prison, as well as possible fines.
Selling or transferring a forged item is a Class H felony, for money or exchanged for anything of value, and brings five to twenty months in prison, along with fines.
Forging or changing the content of wills, deeds and other similar documents is also Class H felony, bringing five to twenty months in prison, along with possible fines imposed by the court.
Forgery of transcripts from high schools, colleges and universities are Class 1 misdemeanors, since they don’t have a specific monetary value, or are less than $10,000. However, a conviction brings as much as 45 days in jail.
Note that there is no statute of limitations on forgery charges in North Carolina, so you will not be able to claim that as a defense.
Obtaining a prescription drug by forgery is also considered a drug charge, and includes:
- Acquiring a controlled substance by forgery, fraud or other type of deception
- An individual who obtains a controlled substance by representing themselves as a person who is licensed to prescribed, but isn’t
- Stealing a prescription pad, or creating a forged prescription pad with a doctor’s DEA number for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance
Although prescription fraud/forgery may be a misdemeanor if a violation was committed mistakenly, most are committed intentionally and will be treated as felonies. Even if you are not the individual using the prescription, you may face harsh penalties for forging a prescription to obtain a controlled substance illegally.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-108(a)(10) describes the prohibited acts and penalties for prescription forgery, as well as the penalties for Class 1 misdemeanors and Class 1 felonies.
Charged With Forgery?
A conviction on forgery charges can have long-term consequences that stay with you even with a fairly light penalty. If you find yourself under investigation or charged with forgery, it’s important to have a Raleigh, NC criminal defense attorney who can build your defense, represent you in court and make sure your rights are protected.
Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who works to defend forgery in Raleigh, NC and other criminal cases. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 (or user our online contact form) for a free consultation. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.