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Forgery is the act of possessing or creating fake documents. For example, if you were in possession of a passport that was not issued by the government, then you could be charged with forgery. The severity of a forgery charge can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, but it should never be taken lightly. As a white-collar crime, a forgery charge is always a serious criminal matter.

If you have been charged with forgery, then you need to contact one of our criminal defense attorneys immediately to protect your interests.

The Four Degrees of Forgery

Under Georgia law, there are four different degrees of forgery. First and second-degree forgeries apply to any kind of forged writings. Despite the name, “writing” is very broadly defined under Georgia’s forgery laws – it covers everything from written and printed documents, signatures, most any form of currency, stamps and seals, and other items with value and authority attached to them, such as badges or UPC labels.

The above are considered to be forged writings under Georgia law when they are falsely attributed to another person, were allegedly made at a different time, were made with different provisions, or were made with the alleged permission of someone who never actually gave permission. From there, the nature of your charges depend on what kind of forged writing you created and what you intended to do with it, if anything.

  • First Degree: When someone commits second-degree forgery and puts the writing to use or offers it to someone else. A person who merely printed counterfeit money would be committing second-degree forgery, but if they bought anything with the counterfeit money they printed, it would be first-degree.
  • Second Degree: When someone makes, alters, or possesses any forged writing other than fake checks.
  • Third Degree: Making, altering, possessing, or passing off a counterfeit check written for $1,500 or more. Possessing more than 10 counterfeit blank checks also qualifies.
  • Fourth Degree: Making, altering, possessing, or passing off a forged check for less than $1,500 or possessing less than 10 counterfeit blank checks.

In order to be convicted of any kind of forgery in the state of Georgia, you need to demonstrate a clear and obvious "intent to defraud". This means that you clearly intended to deceive others or better your own position using forged writings. To be convicted with second or first-degree forgery, the state will also need to prove you knew that the writing was forged.

Remember - it is not illegal to create a falsely attributed or fake document. What matters is what you intend to do with it. For example, it’s perfectly legal to create fake concert tickets as a gag gift for your friends. However, if you sold those fake tickets to unsuspecting people while claiming that they were real, you would be found guilty of forgery.

What are the Penalties for Forgery?

Punishment for forgery will differ greatly depending on which degree you are charged with. If you are charged with first-degree forgery, then you could be facing anywhere from one to fifteen years in jail. Second and third-degree forgery will usually result in one to five years in jail. Fourth-degree forgery is considered a misdemeanor unless you have prior convictions. In that case, you could be facing anywhere from one to five years in jail, depending on how many times you were convicted before.

If you have been charged with forgery, you could find yourself facing serious legal consequences. The criminal defense lawyers with the Don Turner Legal Team have years of experience representing clients charged with forgery. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you with your criminal case.

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