Since it’s not a very “visible” crime, many are unaware of how common forgery charges are in the United States. The Insurance Information institute (III) released a report detailing that 1.1 million fraud-related complaints were filed in the U.S. in 2017 alone. The data revealed that from these fraud schemes consumers lost nearly $905 million dollars. These shocking forgery and fraud related crime statistics have pushed legislators to pass strict laws forbidding these schemes and law enforcement to be on high alert for possible forgery-related instances.

Although forgery is a non-violent white-collar crime, that doesn’t mean the penalties for committing the crime are minor. A conviction for forgery can result in serious long-lasting consequences including time behind bars and possible court fines. If you or someone you know has been charged with forgery or another white-collar crime, then it’s imperative you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance.

Houston Forgery Defense Lawyer | Texas Fraudulent Crimes

The punishment for committing forgery or any fraud-related crime could potentially uproot your life. You could be sentenced to jail or prison and be forced to pay steep fines. In addition to this, forgery is a crime of moral turpitude. A conviction on your record could cost you potential employment and housing opportunities since the crime is considered morally dubious by society’s standards. For these reasons and more, we highly encourage you to call Brian Benken.

Attorney Brian Benken has been defending clients accsued of white-collar crimes including forgery since 1991. He has not just years, but decades of practice and has encountered every legal roadblock imaginable in a case. With his experience, skills, and extensive resources, attorney Benken can create an effective and efficient defense for you.

Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation free of charge. The Benken Law Firm represents residents throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding communities including Alief, River Oaks, Greenspoint, and Meyerland.

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What is Considered Forgery in Texas?

Forging a signature or any other information for an official record/document is violation of the Texas Penal Code. The crime can include various types of documentation including checks, official licensing, and insurance registration forms. Under the Texas Penal Code Section 32.21, forgery is defined as any of the following:

  • Altering, creating or authenticating any writing that:
    • Wasn’t authorized by the proper person or channels
    • States it was executed at a specific time/place or in a numbered sequence and the document wasn’t executed at that time/place or in a sequence
    • Was a “copy” of the original, which never existed in the first place
  • Issuing, passing, registering the transfer of, transfer or publish a forged writing
  • Possess forged writing with the intention to issue, register the transfer of, transfer, or publish the forged writing

To fully understand the statute, you must know the legal definition for the term “writing.” In Texas, writing is defined under the Penal Code Section 32.21 as:

  • Trademarks, badges, token, coins, seals, stamps, credit cards, and/or money
  • Print or any other method of recording information
  • Identification symbols or symbols of privilege, value or right

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What is the Penalty for Forgery in Texas?

The penalties for forgery will depend on what type of document was forged and what the writing purported to be. In Texas, forging any of the following writings will result in an automatic state jail felony.

  • Authorization to debit an account
  • Contract
  • Codicil
  • Will
  • Release
  • Deed
  • Deed of Trust
  • Check
  • Credit Card
  • Mortgage
  • Security Agreement

The maximum punishment for a state jail felony includes:

  • Up to 24 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

The offense is classified as a third-degree felony if the writing is or purports to be one of the following official documents.

  • Government record
  • Issue of money or securities of sorts
  • State or national government issued documents
  • Bonds, stock or issue, or other documents that represent interests
  • Postage and/or revenue stamps

The phrase “government record” is defined under the Texas Penal Code Section 37.01 as any of the following records.

  • Official election records and/or ballots
  • Motor vehicle liability insurance proof
  • Writing that must be kept for governmental purposes
  • Certificates, permits, letters of patents, licenses, titles, seals, or any document issued by the state or federal government
  • Any documentation needed to run a mobile food unit/business
  • Writing that is kept, received by, or belongs to the government

Forging any of the above is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If the document you forged wasn’t listed above, the penalties for your forgery offense will be determined by the value of money/goods stolen by committing the crime. If the market value of the money/goods stolen through the forgery is less than $100, then the offense will be classified as a class C misdemeanor. The maximum punishment you may receive for a class C misdemeanor is a fine of $500.

Any forgery offense that resulted in the loss of $100 or more, but less than $750, will face a class B misdemeanor. The maximum consequence you may receive for a class B misdemeanor includes the following:

  • Up to 180 days in county jail
  • A fine of up to $2,000

Any goods/money stolen through forgery valued at $750 or more, but less than $2,500 is a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you’ll face the following penalties:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000

The crime of forgery is a state jail felony if the goods/money fraudulently obtained was valued at $2,500 or more, but less than $30,000, The maximum penalty for a state jail felony includes:

  • Up to 24 months in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Forgery is classified as a third-degree felony if the money/goods fraudulently obtained were valued at $30,000 but were less than $150,000. The penalty for a third-degree felony includes:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Forgery schemes where $150,000 or more, but less than $300,00 was fraudulently obtained is a second-degree felony. The maximum consequence you may face for a second-degree felony includes the following:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Any forgery offense where $300,000 or more is fraudulently obtained is a first-degree felony. If convicted, you may face the following:

  • Minimum sentence of 5 years
  • Maximum prison sentence of 99 years or life
  • A fine of up to $10,000

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Additional Resources

Texas Forgery Statute – Visit the official website for Texas Penal Code to find more information regarding forgery and fraud related offenses. Access the laws to learn the elements of the crime, consequences upon conviction, penalty enhancements, and other related offenses.

Houston PD | Financial Crimes Unit– Visit the official website for the Houson Police Department and learn more about their Financial Crimes Unit. Access the site to learn more about identity theft, financial responsibility, and contact information for the police unit.

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Harris County Attorney for Forgery Crimes

If you or someone you know has been charged with a type of fraud or forgery, then it’s imperative you call Brain Benken. Attorney Benken has over three decades of experience defending clients from all types of white-collar crimes from bad checks to elaborate fraud-related schemes. He can assist you by utilizing his vast experience, resources, and skills he’s attuned over the years.

Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation in Houston, Harris County, and/or any other part of Texas.

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