A Comprehensive Guide to Forgery Missouri: Charges and Consequences

The forgery law in Missouri is a criminal statute that defines what constitutes forgery and outlines the punishments for this type of crime. Learn more here.

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

October 29. 2021.

What Is Forgery?

Often, people think of organized crime when the term “forgery” is used. They are unaware of the various criminal actions that the crime may include. Whether a person commits forgery or is in possession of counterfeit money or forged federal documents, they may receive a forgery charge.

A forgery is an offense where the offender alters, makes, or passes off something as genuine when it is not. It involves adapting objects, texts, or data with the intent to deceive others by misrepresenting the work’s origin for gain. The legal definition of forgery does not mention any particular medium or the specific instance of the documentation. Examples include fake currency or checks and other forged documents. It can also be committed by someone who alters a genuine document to make it appear more valuable than it is.

A forgery charge in Missouri is classified as a felony. Its penalties include fines, imprisonment, and probation. With such stiff penalties, consider retaining the services of a highly-trained criminal defense attorney in Kansas City MO if you are facing charges.

Typical Examples of Forgery

Several types of forgery exist. Commonly forged documents include:

  • ID cards

  • Legal agreements or parts thereof

  • Diplomas and certificates

  • Forging a doctor’s signature to obtain medicine

  • Works of art, writing, or other artifacts

  • Historical papers

Missouri Statute of Limitations on Forgery

Generally, a statute of limitations is the maximum time within which a prosecutor can file a criminal complaint. Depending on the severity of the crime, the period can vary from one to five years.

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for a forgery is three years. If this period has expired, however, the offender may be prosecuted one year after discovering the offense but not more than three years after the applicable statute of limitations expires.

Forgery Charges in Missouri

Forgery can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.

  1. The most common forgery charge in Missouri is a forgery of federal government records. This is when someone tampers with, alters, or falsifies a document that is related to public safety and security.
  2. The second most common type of forgery charge in Missouri involves fraudulently using someone else’s signature or seal without their consent.

Contact a skilled law firm immediately to begin creating your criminal defense strategy if you have been accused of forgery. By taking a proactive approach, you may be able to reduce the charges and avoid conviction.

A person can be charged with forgery if they sign a document that they know is false or if they make any alteration or addition to a document without the authority of the person who originally signed it. The intent to commit forgery is among the Class C felony offenses. 

What Constitutes Forgery in Missouri?

Forgery has specific elements that must be met for an accused to be convicted. 

  1. The forgery is committed in an attempt to defraud another by altering, making, or completing any writing or erasing, obliterating, or destroying any writing.
  2. Changing the written instrument will result in injury to another person.

Being a victim of forgery can have serious, life-altering consequences. Being found guilty of forgery charges has equally severe repercussions. If you are accused of committing a criminal offense, ensure that you retain the legal services of an experienced attorney. Contact the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center for legal representation today. 

Repercussions of Forgery in MO

Class C felony penalties vary by state. In Missouri, forgery is a Class C felony punishable by a maximum ten-year prison sentence and fines of up to $5,000. Being in possession of a forging instrument is a Class D felony that carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence.

Retaining trusted lawyers in Kansas City can help you improve your chances of avoiding jail time and fines. First, consult with an attorney if you are accused of forging or possessing forged documents. Also, make sure that you cooperate fully with the police department during their investigation.

Possible Forgery Defenses

If you are facing forgery charges, all hope is not lost! There are potential defenses that might be sufficient to get the charges dropped.

  • Consent: If you had the other person’s consent to sign or alter the document, you did not commit a forgery. For instance, a spouse or parent permitted you to use their credit card, and you signed their name on the purchase.
  • Lack of intent: Intent to defraud is a critical element of forgery. So there is no such crime as negligent or reckless forgery because you cannot accidentally commit a forgery. For instance, you purchased a Rembrandt you believed was genuine. It would not be considered forgery if you resold it and the new buyer discovered that it was a highly-skilled forgery due to your lack of intent.

Do You Need a Missouri Forgery Lawyer?

Many people wonder about when to hire a criminal defense attorney in Kansas City. The first step in deciding whether or not to hire an attorney is to determine what kind of lawyer best suits your needs. You can certainly determine which type of lawyer you need based on your charges, your level of information, whether you intend to go to court, the specific circumstances of your case, and their legal fees. 

Generally, federal prosecutors will aggressively pursue charges if you have been accused of Class C felony forgery crimes. Whether felony or misdemeanor, be sure to consult a skilled defense attorney to prepare your legal defenses.

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