The state of Missouri classifies forgery as a serious offense. A conviction will warrant significant penalties. Missouri defines its stance on forgery in Statute 570.090
What is a forgery?
‘Forgery’ is a broad term encompassing several criminal activities. The act of forgery is defined as the use, possession of altered or forged instruments. This includes possession with intent to use these instruments to defraud another person or entity deliberately. A deliberate move to defraud, legally known as the intent to defraud, is when someone tricks, fools, or deceives another person.
Signing another person’s name and details to a check is considered a forgery, and so is, trying to cash the forged check. In the state of Missouri, a person is said to commit forgery when they do the following with the intent to defraud:
- Authenticating, altering, completing, or creating documents to make them appear as if they were done by a different party, created in another place or time, or created in a number sequence different than what’s in the authentic document
- Destroying, erasing, or obliterating any writing
- Altering or creating something other than a written document making it out as the genuine thing
- Using, transferring, or possessing a forged item that’s being passed off as a genuine item.
Within the state of Missouri, forgery is classified as a Class C felony.
When forgery becomes a federal offense
So far, we’ve seen forgery via the lens of Missouri Law. However, in addition to being convicted of crimes against the state, the defendant could also be charged for breaking federal law.
Not all federal crimes are created equal; federal prosecutors could take a particular interest in forgery proceedings; when the forgery charges involve the use or misuse of federal documents, if the fraudulence is against the federal government, or if the accused has been charged with forgery across several state lines.
There are a few legal defenses employable to battle forgery charges in Missouri. The effectiveness of these defenses is dependent on the case’s circumstances. A few of the most common defenses used include:
Forgery is a crime of a deliberate nature. For instance, if someone you’re providing a service to pays you using a forged check, you will not be guilty of forgery once you unknowingly cash it later. These instruments of fraudulence will not lead to the sentencing of the innocent party.
While it is a crime to use someone’s name and signature on legal documents, it is not considered so if consent was given by the person whose identifying details you’re using. For instance, if one spouse gives the other permission to use their signature on a check, the party signing on the other’s behalf will not have committed forgery.
As with the kind of defense used, the penalties faced for forgery offenses will depend on the circumstances behind the crime.
Forgery and possession of forging/forged instruments fall under Class C felony offenses. A conviction for either carries a maximum fine of $5000 and imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years.