Most people believe that just signing someone else’s name on a document is forgery. Young students often think about signing their parents name so they can go on field trips or to hide their report cards and letters from the school. As a minor, this may lead to suspension from school. However, as an adult forgery is much more serious and can cause more than just embarrassment. It can lead to an arrest and criminal charges.
In New Jersey, forgery is crime when someone intentionally alters a “writing” or a document with the purpose to defraud or injure another. Fraud can go beyond just copying someone else’s signature on the dotted line.
First, altering a “writing” or document is a form of forgery. This includes altering or signing someone else’s name, or making changes to an existing record, such as changing a date or other information. If the forged information is used to harm or injure someone, that is a crime.
A “writing” does not just mean a document. Other examples of writings include:
- Credit or debit cards
- Driver’s licenses and ID cards
- Work and Employer identification cards
- Store and business receipts
- Postage labels and stamps
- First Aid and CPR cards
- Trademarks, copyrights and other symbols
- Trademark or other symbols
Actual Case Study
I represented someone who was employed by a hospital as a Registered Nurse. He completed his CPR recertification, but never received the new CPR card. Since he was certified, he changed the date on the expired CPR to the reflect the new date of his recertification. Even though the information in the forged CPR card was correct, he still required my legal services to defend him on the criminal charges, and to get his job and pension back since he was fired because he altered the card.
Pro Tip: Fake ID’s. Using a Fake ID to try to get into a bar or buy liquor is a criminal offense. Bouncers and bar staff are trained to spot fake ID’s used by people who are under 21 years old. Many places even hire police officers to check identification. If you are caught with a Fake ID, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense, and face 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. You will need a criminal defense attorney to appear in municipal court to downgrade the charge to a municipal ordinance or dismissal, if possible.
Forgery can be a fourth degree offense in Superior Court, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and a $10,000 fine. If the offense involves 15 or more forged documents, it can be a third degree offense, punishable by 3 to 5 years in jail, and a $15,000 fine.
Contact My Office Immediately
I am a New Jersey criminal trial attorney board certified by the NJ Supreme Court. New Jersey’s criminal fraud laws are extremely complex and carry significant consequences. If you or a family member were arrested for a fraud offense in New Jersey, contact me immediately so I can review your case and the evidence against you and advise you as to all possible defenses to make sure that you are properly represented. In many cases and circumstances charges can be downgraded or dismissed depending on the facts of your case. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.