Contrary to popular belief, forgery involves both making and using fake goods and presenting them as genuine in order to defraud a person, organization or a government body. It is a white-collar crime.
One of the most commonly known forgeries is check fraud, which often involves writing a bad check or forging a signature or creating a fake check, among other things. Forgery is a felony-level crime that may result in serious legal consequences in Minnesota.
In most cases, any of the following can be regarded as an act of forgery:
- Creating a false or fake document. For example, creating a false identification or documents like legal certificates and contracts.
- Falsifying an original document. For example, forging a signature on a real check or changing the name or amount.
- Presenting a false or fraudulent document or item knowingly. Please note, you will be charged with forgery even if the said document or artifact is not accepted.
- Possession of any fake document or item knowingly. In this case, you will be charged for possession.
- Destroying or mutilating a document with the intention of defrauding a person or an entity.
Penalties for Forgery in Minnesota
All forgery crimes are felony-level crimes in Minnesota, and hence, carry hefty penalties such as fines and prison time. Usually the value of your forgery will determine the sentence you receive. Depending on the nature of your crime, you may also face charges from state and federal prosecution.
When charged with aggravated forgery, you may end up facing imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $20,000, if found guilty. On the other hand, the charges of forgery can result in imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if found guilty.
However, based on the individual circumstances of your case, you may have to suffer more severe punishment. An experienced forgery defense lawyer will be able to discuss the potential penalties and how you can reduce them only after checking the facts related to your case.
Furthermore, a conviction for forgery can haunt you for the rest of your life. Getting a job is next to impossible for a convicted felon. No business will want to hire an individual who had committed forgery.
Universities also vet student applications to see if you were ever convicted of a crime. If yes, the doors to a decent education might be closed for you forever. Students with a criminal record are also not likely to receive any scholarships or concessions. That’s why you have to try and get your forgery charges reduced or even dismissed with the help of a good felony forgery attorney.
Can Forgery Charges Be Dropped in Minnesota?
With the help of a skilled forgery defense lawyer, it is possible to reduce your forgery charges or even get them dropped. However, nothing is certain as a lot of factors are involved in a forgery trial.
However, the burden of proof rests on the state. In other words, the state has to prove beyond any doubt that you either created or used the fraudulent documents with the intention to defraud a person or organization in question. If you are being tried for possession, they need to prove that you possessed the fake documents, money or goods knowing fully well that they are fake.
So, the first order of business is to talk to a criminal defense lawyer specializing in forgery crime. After hearing your case, the lawyer will help you proceed with the pre-trial steps.
The evidence presented against you will include the documents in question, police and lab reports, expert witness testimony, and anything else related to your case. As you and your lawyer can see the evidence against you during this stage, you will be able to define the next course of action.
Based on the circumstances of your case, the lawyer can suggest you to consider settlement offers. These may help reduce your charges or might dismiss them altogether.
What If My Forgery Case Is Not Settled?
If your case is not settled at pre-trial stage, it will move to a bench trial or a jury trial. The difference between the two is that judges will determine the outcome of your case in the former, while juries will do so in the latter.
Even if the case goes to trial, it is still possible to reduce the potential sentence. The burden of proof lies on the state. So, the state has to prove that you purposefully tried to defraud someone.
If proven guilty, depending on the value of forgery and your previous criminal background, among other things, you will receive a sentence. If the ruling goes against you despite your appeals, you will have to serve the sentence.
However, not all is lost, even now. After serving the sentence, you can still apply to expunge your forgery crime records. Expungement of court records can help you rebuild your life relatively quickly and easily.
Whether or not to expunge your criminal records, will primarily depend on the following factors:
- The nature of your offense (minor offenses are more likely to get expunged)
- Evidence of hardship you are suffering due to the forgery crime record
- Your additional efforts to rehabilitate or put your life back together
- The extent of risk you pose to the public
Expungement can be a viable solution in some cases, not all. However, you do need to talk to your forgery defense attorney first. Make sure to share all the facts and details related to your case freely with your lawyer to help them build an excellent defense for you. Remember, even a seemingly trivial detail can help turn the tide in your favor.
You must understand that each forgery case is unique. Usually, very few cases are open-and-shut type, where you can get the forgery charges dropped completely. While any good forgery defense lawyer will leave no stone unturned to win every case, a lot of factors are involved in deciding the outcome.
Even if your forgery charges cannot be dismissed, you can try to get a reduced sentence. After serving a reduced sentence, you can further try to get your records expunged to begin your normal life as soon as possible.
Contact Our Seasoned Forgery Defense Lawyer in Hutchinson for the Best Representation
It is better to consult with us so we can make a preliminary observation of your case to determine the best course of action, considering your personal situation. Get in touch with our forgery defense lawyers at (855) 215-6862 or contact us online for a free consultation.