One of the most basic and ordinary tasks performed by St. Louis residents on a daily basis is signing their name for various purposes. Financial transactions, in particular, depend heavily on a person's signature, whether it be signing a credit card receipt or making a transaction at a bank. Given how simple and ordinary it is to sign one's name to a document, individuals might be surprised to learn that the law provides very serious penalties in the event one is accused of signing another person's name.
Under Missouri law, forgery is defined as making, completing, altering or authenticating any writing so that it purports to have been made by someone else when that other person did not provide authority for the act. Individuals can also commit forgery under Missouri law if they erase or destroy a writing or if they use, possess or transfer a writing that is altered. Moreover, the law is not limited to writings, as receipts or universal product codes can also be forged.
All of the above acts must be done with the intent to defraud. Accordingly, it would likely not qualify as forgery under the statute if a person accidently used someone else's writing or if they otherwise did not have the intent to defraud.
However, if the intent is present, the person can be charged with a class C felony. This means individuals can go to jail or pay steep fines if they are convicted on the forgery charge, as well as suffer long-lasting consequences due to the felony on their record. Given the seriousness of the charge, individuals who are facing allegations of forgery should understand the basis of the charge against them, and what defenses might be available to vigorously combat the charges.
Source: Missouri Revised Statutes, "Forgery," accessed on Oct. 18, 2014