What are defenses to forgery charges in Virginia?

Gavel Engraved With Forgery TextForgery is a serious felony offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia no matter the value of what is forged. If convicted, you may be sentenced to significant prison time and a hefty fine. To avoid these harsh consequences, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist you in defending against the charge.

Common Forgery Crimes in Virginia

There are a number of forgery-related crimes that you can be charged with committing in Virginia. Three common forgery-related crimes are:

  • Forgery. Virginia Code § 18.2-172 defines forgery as the creation of a false document or alteration of an existing one with the intent to injure or defraud another. This is a Class 5 felony with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
     
  • Uttering. Uttering is a crime under the same code section as forgery and is often charged with it. However, uttering is a separate offense. It is the use of a false document. If convicted, the sentence is the same as for forgery.
     
  • Forgery by false pretenses. Forgery by false pretenses is also a criminal offense under Virginia Code § 18.2-172. This crime involves obtaining the signature of a person with the intent to defraud him. This is a Class 5 felony with the same penalties as for forgery and uttering.

Defenses to Forgery Charges

In order for you to be convicted of a criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, the elements of the crime of forgery include the act of making or altering a document and the intent to defraud another. Here are some defenses that you may be able to raise if charged with a forgery crime:

  • No intent. Evidence that you did not intend to defraud or deceive another, which is a key element of the crime, is a possible defense.
     
  • Consent. Proving that you created or altered a document with the permission of the alleged victim may be a defense that can result in the charges against you being dismissed.
     
  • Not a forgery. Another possible defense is that the document has not been forged. If you are raising this defense, you may need to hire a handwriting expert to verify the item’s authenticity.

Have you been arrested for forgery in Fairfax or Northern Virginia? Let our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers aggressively fight the charges you face so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. To learn more, call our Fairfax office to schedule a free consultation.