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Forgery is a white-collar crime. This means that the actions were not violent, but instead involved theft or deception. Still, Alabama pursues white collar crimes just as vigorously as any other allegation.

Forgery can be a felony-level offense that can carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence. It is critical that people facing these forgery charges obtain representation who can work to pursue the best outcome for their case.

A Birmingham forgery lawyer can represent individuals who face charges of any of the four levels of forgery in Alabama’s courts. A fraud lawyer’s goal is to formulate a defense that creates reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

What are the Levels of Forgery in Birmingham?

Alabama creates four distinct levels of offenses under the umbrella of forgery. At its core, forgery is the creation, alteration, or completion of any document with the intent to defraud another person. For example, a person may receive a check for twenty dollars. If they take this check and alter the figures to make it seem that the check was issued for eighty dollars, this counts as fraud.

The severity of a fraud accusation does not depend upon the value of the item alleged to have been altered, but its identity. The most serious version of fraud is fraud in the first degree. This is in Alabama Criminal Code §13A-9-2.

This states that fraud in the first degree occurs when a person alters stamps, securities, or any other item of value issued by the government. It can also apply if a person alters any stocks, bonds, or instruments related to the financial interests of a company. This is a class B felony and should be addressed with a Birmingham forgery attorney as soon as possible.

The second level of forgery is forgery in the second degree. Under Alabama Criminal Code §13A-9-3, this applies when a person alters:

  • A deed, will, or other contract designed to provide a legal right to a party
  • Any public record or any document required to be filed with a public office
  • Any written instrument designed to be used by a public office or agency

Therefore, if a person alters a will before filing it in probate court or makes an intentionally false statement on an application for government benefits, this may be second-degree fraud. This is a class C felony.

According to Alabama Criminal Code §13A-9-3.1, forgery in the third degree applies when a person forges any commercial item, such as a check or promissory note that has monetary value but does not confer a legal right. These allegations are a class D felony.

Finally, all other allegations of forgery are forgery in the fourth degree. Alabama Criminal Code §13A-9-4 states that this is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Just as it is a crime to create a forged document, it is also illegal to knowingly possess any forged document. Once again, the potential penalties are tied to the type of item possessed and mirror the penalties for the creation of said items and should be addressed with the assistance of a Birmingham forgery lawyer.

What are the Potential Consequences of Forgery?

A conviction for any level of forgery carries the potential for jail time. Even the lowest level of forgery is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000.

Felonies are much more serious and always require a jail term of at least one year and one day. The most serious felonies available for a forgery conviction, class B felonies, increase this mandatory minimum sentence to two years with a maximum term of twenty.

Talk to a Birmingham Forgery Attorney Today

The State of Alabama has harsh punishments for forgery. Any conviction carries a potential jail sentence with mandatory minimums applying in many situations. Still, there are ways for people to defend themselves against allegations of the creation or possession of a forged item. The state must prove that not only did a person create a forged document, but that they intended to do so.

A Birmingham forgery attorney stands ready to argue your case in court and before a jury to seek the best possible outcome based on your circumstances. Contact a lawyer today to see how they can help.