Can Forgery Charges Be Dropped in Hutchinson, MN?

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.

In Minnesota, you can also receive forgery charges for owning or manufacturing equipment used to make forgeries. The good news? Hiring an experienced forgery defense attorney in Hutchison, Minnesota can help you get your charges dropped. Keep reading to find out how.

Types of Forgery Charges in Hutchinson, MN

Minnesota has three statutes covering the types of forgery: forgery, aggravated forgery, and check fraud. Counterfeiting is another type of forgery offense specifically designed to punish currency forgers.

Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

The manufacturing, possession, or use of fraudulent items or documents is a crime in Minnesota. Note that the law considers fraudulent physical documents and forged electronic documents equally.

Forgery falls under Section 609.63 of Minnesota statutes. Forgery is almost always charged as a felony offense.

Before a court can prove forgery, though, it must have evidence of intent. The court must be able to prove that you knowingly created, possessed, or used a fraudulent item. Without intent, a Hutchison forgery defense lawyer can get your charges dropped.

Aggravated Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

Aggravated forgery is a more serious crime than simple forgery. It’s also a felony to commit an aggravated forgery offense, as specified in Section 609.625 of Minnesota’s Statutes.

The difference between aggravated forgery and forgery is that the former incurs heftier penalties, including prison time and fines. Why is aggravated forgery a more serious offense? In aggravated forgery cases, the forger attempts to defraud an authority figure. For example, forging an official seal, public records, or court orders would make the crime an aggravated forgery offense.

Check Fraud in Hutchinson, MN

Check fraud is the most common type of forgery in Minnesota. Under Section 609.631 of Minnesota’s Statutes, it’s a crime to manufacture fraudulent checks. It’s also a crime to possess and/or use fraudulent checks.

As with common and aggravated forgery, a court must prove that the person in possession of the fraudulent check knows it’s forged and intends to use it as such. Check fraud convictions are almost always felonies.

It’s important to note that check fraud includes check washing and check forgery. Check washing occurs when someone removes the accurate information on a check and replaces it with fraudulent data. Check forgery, on the other hand, is when someone fraudulently endorses a check with someone else’s name without that person’s permission.

Issuing bad checks is a similar offense. However, Minnesota Statutes don’t categorize this type of check fraud under forgery. See Section 609.535 for more information about writing bad checks.

Counterfeiting in Hutchinson, MN

In Minnesota, it’s illegal to manufacture, sell, possess, or use counterfeit currencies. Counterfeiting charges are distinct from other forgery offenses because they involve forged currencies, not other fraudulent items.

Currencies aren’t just US dollars. Minnesota also defines money orders, Federal Reserve Notes, and other US securities as currency. Further, it’s a crime to manufacture or possess equipment used to make forgeries.

Counterfeiting is a felony. But like forgery, a court must first prove intent. If you’re in possession of or use counterfeit money and you don’t know it’s fraudulent, a forgery defense lawyer in Hutchison can help you avoid conviction.

Penalties for Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

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.

Aggravated Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

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. If the forger presents the fraudulent item as evidence in court proceedings for a felony charge, the penalties increase to a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Examples of Fines and Sentences for Forgery in Hutchinson and the State of Minnesota

Punishments for check fraud depend on the amount. If the check was worth less than $250, the fine is $3,000 and sentencing is up to one year in prison. Fake checks worth $250–$2500 can earn forgers up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

More than $2,500 worth of fraudulent checks come with up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. Cases dealing with more than $35,000 worth of fake checks earn the highest penalties — up to 20 years in prison, $100,000 in fines, or both.

Also, if a forger has a prior related conviction within the last five years and possesses $250 or less in fake checks, he or she must spend up to five years in prison and/or pay a $10,000 fine.

Manufacturing or owning equipment used to manufacture counterfeit currencies can get you 20 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Possession or use of counterfeit money is also a serious crime in Minnesota. It can earn you up to 20 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

More Severe Punishments for Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

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.

An experienced forgery defense attorney can get forgers off in small-scale cases. If the forged items are worth less than $1000, the forger could get a pretrial diversion. Pretrial diversions are court orders allowing offenders to pay fines and complete self-improvement activities (e.g., community service) in exchange for dropping the charges.

There are also defense options for larger-scale forgers. With deferred adjudication, the alleged forger pleads guilty before trial. Upon completion of a probationary program, the judge will drop the case.

Pre-Trial for Forgery in Hutchinson, MN

If charges aren’t dropped through one of these two resolutions, the case will proceed to pre-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.

“Purposefully” is essential here. The prosecutor has to prove that you had the intent to defraud. This is to protect individuals who unknowingly possess or use forged items and currencies.

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.

Each Forgery Case in Hutchinson and Minnesota Is Unique

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.

 

This article was originally published on July 18, 2020 and updated on August 12, 2021.

Is Forgery a Felony in Buffalo, Minnesota?

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.

Pretrial Diversion

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.

Deferred Adjudication

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.

Trial Defenses

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.

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