Uttering a Forged Document in North Carolina

Forgery is nearly always charged as a serious felony in North Carolina. Many people think of the crime of writing a forged check when they think of forgery charges. However, multiple different types of criminal activities are considered forgery. If you have been charged with forgery, you could be facing a lengthy prison sentence and have to deal with the consequences of a permanent criminal record.

A criminal record can negatively impact your ability to obtain housing and a job. Fortunately, you may have one or more strong defenses, even if you are guilty. The skilled attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are prepared to represent you and fight for the best outcome of your case, whether that involves the forgery charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a less serious charge through a plea bargain. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.

Documents That Can Be Involved in the Crime of Forgery

Forgery is considered a white-collar crime that involves possessing or using a false document to commit fraud. North Carolina’s forgery law is broad and criminalizes the use of the following types of documents to commit forgery:

  • Wills
  • Financial documents, including banknotes, checks, and other types of currency
  • Leases and deeds
  • Corporate stocks, bonds, and securities
  • Promissory notes or other documents for the delivery of goods or payment of money
  • Licenses, diplomas, educational certificates, or other similar documents
The Elements of Forgery in North Carolina

Forgery occurs when a person uses a document to create a misrepresentation to obtain a benefit. The elements of the crime of forgery that must be proven include the following:

  • A person modified or altered an existing document or created a new document
  • The document has legal significance, represents another document with value, or signifies an ownership interest.
  • The defendant engaged in a material creation or alteration of the document, meaning that the legal impact of the document was changed

Finally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to defraud another party by misrepresenting the nature of the document and knew that the other party would rely on it. The victim does not have to rely on the forged document for the crime to have been committed.

Is Forgery Always Charged as a Felony?

In North Carolina, nearly every form of forgery will be charged as a felony since it is considered a form of fraud. Even when the defendant was unsuccessful at defrauding another person with a forged document but they intended to do so, the defendant can still be charged with a crime.

Forged Instruments

If a person alters, creates, or possesses a forged instrument, they can be charged with a Class 1 felony. The penalty is a fine and between four and ten months in prison. When the defendant is convicted of transporting five or more forged documents, the penalty will be more serious and charged as a Class G felony. This penalty carries a penalty of four to 25 months in prison and a fine.

Forgery of Wills, Deeds, and Leases

Forging a will, lease, deed, or other similar document is considered a Class H felony with a penalty between five and 20 months in prison, a fine, or both.

Corporate Securities

Creating, altering, or possessing forged corporate security is charged as a Class I felony. If convicted, a person faces the same penalties for creating or altering a forged instrument.

Forged Educational Certificates

Forging an educational certificate, such as a degree certificate, is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for forging an educational certificate are less severe than other types of forgery charges, including a penalty of up to 45 days in jail and a fine.

Uttering a Forged Instrument

The crime of uttering a forged instrument occurs when a person cashes, transfers, endorses, or otherwise uses a forged instrument, such as a check from a checkbook. Uttering a forged instrument is considered a Class H felony and has the same potential penalty as forging a lease, will, or deed.

Selling a Forged Item

Selling or transferring a forged item for money or other items of value is also considered a Class H felony. The punishment for selling a forged item is the same as for the other Class H felonies listed above.

Prescription Forgery

Obtaining a prescription drug by forgery is a serious drug charge. It may be charged as a misdemeanor if the violation was committed mistakenly. When the forgery was committed intentionally, the defendant will be facing felony charges. Even if you are not the person using the prescription, you may face harsh penalties for forging a prescription to obtain a controlled substance illegally.

Get Help With Your Forgery Case From a Skilled Charlotte Attorney

If you have questions about criminal charges you are facing in North Carolina, do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.