Cleveland Forgery Attorney
Forgery charges in Cleveland are serious and should not be taken lightly. While it could be a simple misunderstanding, this not something you want to try and handle on your own. Forgery is a serious charge with very real consequences. It’s best to deal with any theft or fraud allegation the right way and contact an experienced defense attorney.
If you’ve been charged with forgery in Cuyahoga County, contact The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC at (216) 533-9533 to schedule a free consultation. Let a knowledgeable and dedicated defense lawyer explain your rights, what to expect, and how to resolve things favorably.
What is Forgery?
Forgery in Ohio is defined in the Ohio Rev Code 2913.31 as signing another person’s name on a document, changing a document without proper authority, creating a false ID or altering one to contain false information, using a false ID or forged document (an act known as “uttering,” or being found in possession of a false document with the intent to use it.
A common example of forgery is signing another person’s name on a check and then cashing it, which is also referred to as check fraud. Forgery penalties range from first-degree misdemeanors to second-degree felonies in Ohio, depending on the circumstances. For example, forging ID cards or distributing them in Ohio is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, other forgery crimes may result in fifth-degree felony charges.
Forgery and Counterfeiting
Ohio deals with forgery and counterfeiting in the same section of the law. The specific actions that count as either forgery or counterfeiting are:
- Passing bad checks with the purpose of defrauding a person or entity.
- Issuing a check knowing it will be dishonored or knowing a person will stop payment because you do not have authorization.
- Knowingly buying or selling a credit card to another person other than the issuer, or to lie or use deceptive tactics to obtain a credit card.
- Extorting control over a credit card as debt security.
- Using an expired or revoked credit card, or to use a card in any other violation of the law.
- Knowingly duplicating or reproducing someone else’s handwriting or knowingly crafting an ID card or sell/distribute any ID card with the knowledge it’s been forged.
- Forging a receipt to acknowledge a debt was paid, even if the debt was paid in full.
Trademark counterfeiting is slightly different than typical forgery but carries similar definitions, with the intent to deceive. Counterfeiting is:
- Attaching a falsified mark in connection with the manufacture of goods/services.
- Possessing or selling tools with the knowledge they are designed to produce counterfeits or forgeries.
- Selling items knowing they contain counterfeit marks.
Penalties for Ohio Forgeries
Forgery crimes in Ohio have fairly straightforward classifications and penalties, according to the Ohio Rev. Code. Forging, selling, or distributing false ID cards in Ohio is a first-degree misdemeanor. Any other forgery is a fifth-degree felony, with the exception of a few circumstances including:
- If a forgery involves property or services such a real estate documents or land, or the alleged victim suffers a loss exceeding $7,500 but maximum $150,000, the forgery charges increase to a fourth-degree felony, unless the victim is elderly (over 65) or disabled, at which point the penalty increases to a third-degree felony.
- If the value of the property or services in question exceed a loss of $150,000, the forgery charge increases to that of a third-degree felony, or a second-degree felony if the victim is over 65 or disabled.
Ohio law lays out penalties for classification of felonies as follows:
|Value of Goods Stolen:||Sentence:||Max Fines:||Classification:|
|$1,001 – $7,499||Six-12 months||$2,5000||Fifth-degree felony|
|$7,500 – $149,999||Six-18 months||$5,000||Fourth-degree felony|
|$150,000 – $749,999||Nine-36 months||$10,000||Third-degree felony|
|$750,000 – $1.499 mil||Two-eight years||$15,000||Second-degree felony|
|$1.5 mil or more||Three-11 years||$20,000||First-degree felony|
Having a criminal record can not only incur jail or prison time and fines, but it can also have long-lasting consequences on your life. A criminal record can cost you good jobs, loans, and other opportunities. It can result in losing custody of your children, immigration problems, and other challenges.
A major factor in proving guilt in a forgery case is establishing what you knew or reasonably knew at the time. Therefore, it’s a common defense to claim that you had no reasonable belief/did not know the item was forged or counterfeit.
Some possible defenses to forgery that may apply to your case include.
- You are not the person who committed the crime, or the crime did not actually occur. For example, if the signature on the document in question was not actually altered.
- You are in fact authorized or “believed in good faith”* that you were authorized/had permission to sign or alter a document, or to use an altered check or document.
Let a Cleveland Forgery Lawyer Help You
Forgery is a serious offense, but these cases often result from misunderstandings or a simple mistake. There is a lot an experienced lawyer can do to help if you’re accused of making a forgery. Depending on the details, you may be able to have the case dismissed, reduced, or lessen the impact on your life.
If you are charged with forgery in the Cleveland area, contact a local defense lawyer immediately. As a former Cuyahoga County prosecutor attorney Daniel M. Margolis can walk you through the process, explain all your options, and work to secure the best possible result.
Call The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC at (216) 533-9533 today to schedule a free consultation.