Forgery is perhaps one of the oldest criminal activities that has been around for centuries. Contrary to popular belief, forgery is related to more than just artwork. It often involves creating and using fake goods, documents, and money, and presenting them as genuine ones with the intention of deceiving someone. If you’re wondering, Is forgery a felony in Buffalo, Minnesota? Yes, forgery can be a felony, falling under the white-collar crimes’ category.
A Short History of Forgery
Over the years, forgers have laid their eyes on almost everything that is valuable, including artwork, literature, contracts, identification cards, legal certificates, documents, monetary instruments, and historical artifacts. Different states have different laws to protect their residents from crimes involving forgery.
In Buffalo Minnesota, forgery and counterfeiting are treated differently even though they are similar in nature. When is forgery a felony? The state will levy a forgery charge if you create a fake document, but you will be tried under counterfeiting if you are involved in creating fake money or distributing it.
Is Forgery a Felony in Buffalo Minnesota?
The short answer is yes!
In fact, in almost all cases, a forgery charge is a felony-level crime in Buffalo Minnesota. In other words, you will face serious consequences if you are involved in a crime of forgery or counterfeiting. Depending on the crime, you may also face an aggravated forgery charge, requiring you to spend years behind bars. Employing a forgery criminal defense lawyer in Buffalo MN
Levels of Prosecution
Generally, the level of criminal prosecution depends on the amount in controversy. Typically, if the property at issue is worth less than $500, a property crime is a misdemeanor. Forgery is different. Any computer or document forgery is a felony, regardless of the amount in controversy. Additionally, some forgeries are felonies in Minnesota because of aggravating circumstances. More on that below. Furthermore, forgery is a very broad crime. Under Section 609.63, there are seven different ways prosecutors can bring forgery charges. More on that below as well.
Minnesota Prosecution Must Prove Intent for Forgery Charges
However, the state or prosecutor must prove that the forgery was committed with the intention to defraud a person or an entity like a business, or a private or government organization. The purpose of this rule is to protect those who were in possession of fraudulent documents or goods without knowing they are fake.
All forgery matters require the state or prosecutor to prove that the forgery was committed with the intent to defraud a person or an entity like a business, a private individual, or government organization. The purpose of this rule is to protect those who were in possession of fraudulent documents or goods without knowing they are fake.
Types of Forgery in Minnesota
When it comes to forgery and counterfeiting, laws in Buffalo Minnesota are broken down into Forgery and Aggravated Forgery.
Definitions of Forgery in Minnesota
In Buffalo Minnesota, forgery involves using false documents or goods to defraud a person. If you have committed any of the following actions, you are likely to get slapped with a forgery charge:
- Using a falsified recommendation or identification with intention to defraud someone or something.
- Destroying a falsified document, goods, artwork, or literature illegally.
- Using a trade or business label of one entity on another’s merchandise or product is also considered forgery. So, if you buy a printer manufactured by ABC brand and sell it with XYZ brand’s label without their consent, you are likely to be charged with a forgery crime.
- Creating or knowingly possessing a fake membership or identification card can also land you in hot water.
Common Types of Forgery in MN
Just like there are several different types of forgery offenses, there are several different types of document forgery, including:
- Simple Forgery: As the name implies, simple forgery is, well, simple. The forger makes no effort to duplicate another person’s signature or handwriting. Many check forgery cases are simple forgery cases. Forged doctors’ notes or other excuses are another example. Sometimes, Buffalo criminal defense lawyers are called upon to handle these cases.
- Free Hand Simulation: This kind of forgery is a bit harder to detect. Usually, the forger is looking at a signature or handwriting sample when s/he falsifies the instrument.
- Tracing: If a forger traces a signature, a person reproduces the most prominent or obvious features of a signature or handwritten text. Frequently, traced signatures and writings match the original signature or text. Since prosecutors must use advanced methods, such as light tables, to detect tracing, these cases often involve multi-million dollar frauds.
- Electronic Manipulation: Pretty much anyone can Photoshop or otherwise alter a document on a laptop, and the result is fairly realistic. Imagine what professional editors can do with professional editing tools. Electronic manipulation forgery cases usually involve complex, multi-agency investigations.
If you accept documents as a merchant or otherwise, what are some telltale signs of forgery? Here are a few examples:
- Methodical, slow pen strokes,
- No pen pressure variation,
- Unnatural tremors, and
- Page substitution (e.g. one page has thicker paper or a different typeface than the other pages).
Proof like this usually isn’t enough to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But it could constitute probable cause. That’s enough for officers to obtain a search warrant, question a suspect, or do other things to investigate the matter.
Aggravated Forgery in Minnesota
Aggravated forgery occurs if you alter or falsify an object or document knowingly and with the intention to defraud a person or an entity. It is a felony offense in Buffalo, Minnesota. Passing a bad check is usually forgery. Writing a bad check could be aggravated forgery. The reasons why you will be charged with this felony include, but are not limited to:
- Documents that render legal rights like official seals, badges, or identifications,
- Public records and government documents (federal, state, and local),
- Court records, documents, and orders,
- Possessing an instrument that you can or have used to create a forged document or artwork or goods,
- Falsifying bank records of a person or an entity receiving government aid or funding, or
- Falsifying account records of a public officer or entity.
The court could sentence you to up to ten years of imprisonment or a fine of up to $20,000 or both.
Resolving Forgery Charges in Minnesota
Just like these are several ways to bring forgery charges, there are also several ways to defend them. The best method often depends on the amount of the forgery.
This resolution is very common in small-scale check forgery cases, meaning the disputed amount is less than $1,000. Typically, banks, merchants, and other such organizations immediately refer these matters to prosecutors. Frequently, the arrest warrant or other document is the first notice that defendants have that something is wrong.
Pretrial diversion programs vary significantly in different counties, and even among different courts in the same county. Typically, however, if the defendant pays restitution and completes some other program requirements, such as attending a self-improvement class and performing community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges.
If a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer keeps a conviction off the defendant’s record, that’s usually the best possible result. Furthermore, pretrial diversion programs are normally risk-free. If the defendant doesn’t successfully complete the program for whatever reason, prosecutors simply pick up where they left off.
A few words about the difference between an arrest and conviction record. Pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication, which is discussed below, take care of the judicial conviction record. If anyone looks, the court records are still available, but the outcome is usually something like DISM (Dismissed) or NFOG (No Finding of Guilt). However, the police record remains in full.
Generally, employers and others only care about conviction records. If they ask about the arrest record, a simple explanation like “I hired a Buffalo criminal defense lawyer, and the lawyer took care of it” usually suffices.
Prosecutors often don’t offer pretrial diversion in check kiting and other more advanced forgery cases. They reason that writing a rubber check is not malicious. But if the defendant is a kiter, there is evidence that the defendant is trying to game the system.
However, deferred adjudication, which is also known as deferred prosecution or deferred disposition, is usually available. Prosecutors normally offer deferred as an incentive to plead guilty. Most states’ attorneys would like to avoid financial crimes trials if at all possible. These matters are outside their general area of expertise and often require outside expert witnesses.
In many ways, deferred adjudication is like regular probation. Generally, the same terms and conditions apply. However, if the defendant successfully completes deferred adjudication probation, the judge dismisses the case.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that, if the defendant doesn’t successfully complete probation, the judge could sentence the defendant to anything up to the maximum allowed by law.
Since deferred adjudication is a high risk/high reward alternative, your Buffalo criminal defense attorney should thoroughly review your case before you plead.
In very large cases, prosecutors often don’t offer favorable plea bargain deals. If police officers invest substantial resources in an investigation, they usually want the defendant to receive the harshest possible punishment.
Procedural defenses are sometimes available. As mentioned, large, multi-agency investigations usually involve search warrants. These warrants must be based on probably cause. Frequently, the “probable cause” in these warrants is little more than the uncorroborated testimony of a paid informant. Unless the informant has a solid track record of providing accurate information, these warrants usually don’t hold up in court.
A combination of delay and a restitution payment agreement is often an effective defense as well. No one likes to delay criminal trials. But delay usually hurts the party with the burden of proof, which is the state. Sometimes, witness memories fade so much that they have no independent recollection of the event. In that case, they might be incompetent to testify in court.
Furthermore, many organizations lose interest in the case if the defendant voluntarily pays restitution. Buffalo criminal defense attorneys must tread carefully in these situations, or the state could accuse the defendant of bribing a witness.
Penalties for Forgery in MN
If found guilty, you will be charged with a fine of up to $5000 or a prison sentence of to up to three years or both. However, in certain circumstances, the court may increase your sentence.
For example, if the forged good or document was presented as evidence in a trial or a court proceeding, you could end up with a fine of up to $10000 or the court may sentence you to up to five years in prison or both.
Check Fraud Penalties in MN
Although forgery is common, the layman is rarely involved in art theft. One of the most common forgery crimes is check fraud, which involves using checks to withdraw funds illegally from someone’s bank account. Writing forged or worthless or fraud checks is a criminal offense in Buffalo Minnesota.
Writing a bad check involves writing a check for the amount that exceeds the available clearing balance in your bank account. Writing another check from a different bank account to falsely inflate the balance to clear the first check results in check kiting offense.
Check washing, which involves stealing a check in transit and then forging it to withdraw money is also a punishable white-collar offense with serious legal consequences.
Check forgery involves changing the name of the borrower on a genuine check, creating counterfeit checks, and forging the signature of an account holder. Just like any other forgery charge, you can face a fine and even a prison sentence for a check fraud.
Work With a Forgery Criminal Defense Attorney in Buffalo MN
Unfortunately, most check forgeries are made in distressful financial situations. So, facing a criminal charge on the top of that can put you and your loved ones in real bad shape. That’s why it is essential that you talk to a forgery defense attorney immediately.
There are many ways to recover from a forgery charge like check fraud. For example, if the state or prosecutor fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew the check would be dishonored, you may be able to recover from the charges.
Another way to reduce the penalties is to prove that you didn’t know it was a forged check. However, you will need a good forgery defense lawyer on your side, who can look for potential legal options as soon as possible.
Depending on the circumstances of your case such as the amount of forgery and the evidence, an experienced felony forgery attorney can help you get a fair settlement or even get the charges dropped.
Both forgery and aggravated forgery are felony-level offenses in Buffalo, Minnesota. So, whether you are dealing with a check forgery charge or the legal consequences for forging a power of attorney document, you are likely to face a sizable fine or even a prison sentence.
Our Felony Criminal Defense Lawyer in Buffalo Minnesota Can Fight Fraud Charges
If you’re asking is forgery a felony in Buffalo Minnesota, you may need to consider reliable legal assistance. An experienced Buffalo criminal defense attorney can help. Contact us at Carlson & Jones at (855) 215-6862 or contact us online!
This blog was originally published on July 4, 2020 and updated on July 6, 2021.