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Chicago Forgery Defense Attorney
Defending against Forgery Charges—Illinois Forgery Defense Lawyer
In the state of Illinois, if you find yourself facing charges of forgery, you run the risk of serving two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. A guilty verdict to a charge of fraud will result in serious legal ramifications. Forgery charges are often complex and those facing conviction for forgery will require an aggressive, knowledgeable Chicago defense attorney with the experience and dedication to zealously fight the charge.
Effective Defense against Forgery Allegations
The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. have decades of experience representing defendants against the serious charge of forgery. Our attorney team extensively investigates each case and, armed with this knowledge, mounts a fervent defense. Our firm has successfully obtained acquittals for numerous forgery defendants as well as favorable plea deals, many involving no prison time.
Overview of Forgery Laws in Illinois
The crime of forgery is outlined in 720 ILCS 5/17-3. A person may be charged with forgery when, with intent to defraud, he or she knowingly:
- Makes a false document or alters any document to make it false, and the document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or
- Issues or delivers a false document knowing it was thus made or altered; or
- Possesses, with intent to deliver or issue, a false document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or
- Unlawfully uses the digital signature; or
- Unlawfully uses the signature device of another to create an electronic signature of that person.
720 ILCS 5/17-3 was amended in 2012 to broaden the definition of forgery. Previously, the statute required that the document seem as though it was created by another person in order for it to be illegal. Under the new definition, a document can be forged even if it bears the signature of its actual creator. Accordingly, the identity of the maker no longer matters.
In order for a document to be considered a forgery, two elements must be present:
- The document must be false; and
- The document must be capable of defrauding by its appearance.
A false document is one whose contents are false in some material way or that purports to have been made by another, at a different time, or under authority of an individual or entity who has not given such authority.
720 ILCS 5/17-3 defines a document apparently capable of defrauding another broadly as a document by which a right, obligation, or power may be created, transferred, altered, or terminated. Documents can be electronic and forgery of coins is specifically included under the statute.
Penalties for a Forgery Conviction
Under Illinois law, forgery is generally considered a Class 3 felony. Forgery will be a Class 4 felony when the Universal Price Code Label is forged, and a Class A misdemeanor when a coin or academic degree is forged.
Class 3 felonies are punishable by two to five years imprisonment. Probation is an option for those convicted of a Class 3 felony and can last as long as 30 months, or two and a half years. Additionally, the judge can impose fines of up to $25,000 for such an offense. Restitution can also be ordered of the convicted forgery defendant. In many cases, restitution can involve vast sums, in excess of the maximum fine.
Defendants placed on probation will generally be required to pay restitution, perform community service, submit to random drug testing, and attend counseling, along with numerous other terms. If the defendant fails to complete all that is required of him or her during the probationary period, possible prison time can ensue. The case will be referred to the State’s Attorney for the filing of a Petition to Revoke, or PTR. If it is established the defendant violated the terms of his or her probation, the judge can sentence him or her to complete the remainder of the sentence in prison.
Along with possible prison time and the potential for tens of thousands of dollars in financial costs, a forgery conviction will create a permanent felony record for the defendant. Forgery convictions cannot be expunged or sealed. The conviction will be transmitted nationwide by the Illinois State Police Bureau of Identification and can be discovered by all employers.
Defense Against Forgery Charges: Attacking the Elements of the Charge
While the penalties for a forgery appear bleak, anyone facing the charge should understand that it is defensible. The defendant’s mental state is one of the most critical issues in a forgery case. The prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to defraud another. Absent such proof, a conviction cannot stand.
A knowledgeable Chicago defense attorney will gather evidence to attack and refute this “mens rea,” or mental state, element of the offense. For individuals charged with delivering a fraudulent check, for instance, the issue is whether they really knew the check was false. A layperson cannot be held to the same standard as a banker, and may not reasonably know the intricate details that could be used to discern a fraudulent check from a valid one, such as check size, color, and signature. Similarly, for those charged with depositing false checks, some protection must be afforded as average people cannot be expected to suspect that every check is fraudulent.
Defense Against Forgery Charges: Challenging the Experts
Often, the State’s most critical piece of evidence against you in a forgery charge alleging creation or alteration of a false document will be handwriting analysis. Handwriting analysis is a science subject to much scrutiny, and a skilled defense attorney can seek to challenge the admissibility and weight of a handwriting analysis report. Our firm employs handwriting experts for just this purpose.
Challenging the mental element of the offense and the handwriting analysis are just two of many possible defenses against a charge of forgery. A skilled criminal defense attorney will meticulously examine the facts of your case and uncover the best possible defense for your particular situation.
The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C.: Providing Aggressive Defense against Forgery Charges
Chicago criminal defense attorney David L. Freidberg has over 25 years experience representing clients who have been charged with forgery and other white collar crimes. Our forgery defense attorneys have an unmatched understanding of the laws concerning the complex crime of forgery and the possible defenses. The seasoned defense attorneys at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. will investigate every pertinent fact to your case, often uncovering vital exculpatory evidence. We will mount a zealous defense with the intent of achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. The nature of the defense will vary depending upon your specific case, but we will often move to have the charges dismissed based on lack of evidence, or reduced to a lesser charge. Our goal is first to avoid any conviction whatsoever, and secondly to avoid prison time.
Facing a forgery charge can be frightening, but with the skilled representation of Chicago attorney David L. Freidberg, you can rest assured that your case will be defended to the fullest extent. David L. Freidberg has successfully defended thousands of clients and will aggressively fight for your freedom. Contact us today at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at 1 (800) 803-1442 to schedule your free consultation today. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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