Forgery

Forgery is a serious crime that carries the possibility of a state prison sentence upon conviction.

Elements of Forgery

In order to convict a defendant of forgery, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant either falsified one or more significant parts of a document; altered one or more significant parts of a document; or counterfeited the document to make it appear genuine; and
  2. The defendant did so with the intent to injure or defraud someone.

Forgery can therefore be committed by (a) counterfeiting what appears to be a genuine document, but which is actually a phony document; (b) falsely making out one or more important parts of a genuine document (for example, by forging someone else’s signature on a check); or (c) altering in a significant way one or more parts of a genuine document that has already been made out (for example, by changing the amount on a check).

Common Defenses and Defense Strategies

Forgery cases can be defended in a variety of ways.

  • Defendant’s Intent – The Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with the specific intention of defrauding someone. If the defendant acted in good faith in changing some part of a document, he or she cannot be convicted of forgery.
  • Identification – The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant falsified or altered the document. If the Commonwealth cannot prove that the defendant was responsible for the falsification or alteration, he or she cannot be convicted of forgery. This issue sometimes arises in cases involving forgery of medication prescriptions, which is the most common type of forgery case in Massachusetts. If the defendant went to a pharmacy to fill a prescription, particularly for a third party, it is often difficult for the Commonwealth to prove that it was the defendant, rather than somebody else, who altered the prescription.
  • Witness Issues – Who testifies for the Commonwealth in a forgery case? Whether the case involves a bad check or a questionable prescription, the Commonwealth generally needs the original author of the document to testify in court. But it’s usually also necessary for the bank teller or the pharmacist to appear to testify about the condition of the document when it was presented by the defendant. Even if both the author and the recipient of the document appear, there is still always a question about whether it was the defendant who committed the forgery.

Given the serious consequences that result from a conviction for forgery, you should hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience in litigating these types of cases. Attorney Chris Spring prosecuted these cases earlier in his career when he served as an assistant district attorney and since becoming a defense attorney, he has successfully defended hundreds of individuals charged with this type of case. Having tried more than 150 cases before Massachusetts juries in both district and superior court, Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to guide you through the criminal justice system and present your side of the story to a jury.

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