Ohio law classifies many alleged activities as forgery, and penalties for a conviction on a charge of forgery can be severe. Police and prosecutors will, however, need to prove both that the alleged act occurred and that the action was taken with the intent to defraud another person or a business.
An experienced Columbus forgery defense attorney will hold authorities to the high standards of proof required to obtain a conviction. A lawyer will also ensure that all evidence and testimony a prosecutor intends to use was obtained in accordance with the strict rules that courts have put in place to protect criminal defendants’ rights.
The basic state statute covering the alleged crime of forgery is section 2913.31 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.). Under this law, no person can do the following things if they do them with the intent of perpetrating fraud or while knowing that other people intend to perpetrate fraud:
It is worth noting here that forgery exists as a potential crime that is different from counterfeiting and other potentially criminal actions that can involve forgery, such as passing bad checks or stealing someone else’s identity. Individuals who are most likely to face forgery charges are those who do things like:
These three examples of forgery crimes do not cover the scope of alleged illegal activities that can be called forgery. The point to understand is that lawmakers, police, prosecutors, and judges treat forgery as an act of fraud that often enables some type of theft or deception.
Under section 2913.31 of the O.R.C., people who produce, sell, or distribute fake IDs will face first-degree misdemeanor charges. The maximum penalties for this type of offense are 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count. Actual sentences rarely include the highest penalties. In recognition of this, the state statute specifies that a second or subsequent conviction for producing, selling, or distributing fake IDs must be punished by a minimum fine of $250 in addition to any jail time.
When a loss of money, property, or reputation can be shown to be caused by an act of forgery, the alleged crime is treated as a felony. Any loss at all brings a charge for committing a felony of the fifth degree and potential maximum penalties of 12 months in jail plus criminal fines up to $2,500.
A loss of between $7,500 and $150,000 brings a charge for a fourth-degree felony. The potential penalties then increase to a maximum of 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000. Forgeries that delivery more than $150,000 in ill-gotten gains are prosecuted as felonies of the third degree and penalized with up to 36 months in jail plus fines up to $10,000.
Simply signing someone else’s name is not a crime. A person can authorize another individual to sign documents for them. Lawyers do this for clients all the time after seeking each client’s approval.
A Columbus forgery defense attorney will work with their client to find and present evidence that shows any intent was helpful, artistic, or innocent instead of criminal. It may also be possible to call into question the proof police and prosecutors claim to have regarding the use of an alleged forgery to obtain money, goods, or services.
You can request a free phone consultation with a forgery defense attorney in Columbus by connecting with Maher Law Firm online or by calling (614) 205-2208. We handle all types of criminal and traffic cases throughout Franklin County and generally offer clients a flat fee rather than billing by the hour.