What’s the penalty for forgery in Louisiana?

What’s the penalty for forgery in Louisiana?

The penalty for forgery in Louisiana can be incredibly harsh, including thousands of dollars in fines and being imprisoned for years. If you’ve been charged with forgery, you’ll need the help of a skilled Lake Charles criminal law attorney because this is a complicated area of law with high stakes.

The Johnson Firm has the resources, experience, and knowledge you’ll need to have the best possible chance of avoiding a conviction and the severe penalties that accompany a conviction. Call us at (337) 433-1414 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

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Louisiana’s definition of forgery

Revised Statute §14:72 outlines Louisiana’s broad definition of forgery. This statute makes it unlawful to do the following. 

1. Alter or create a signature on any piece of writing, or alter the writing, that has legal power

Putting a forged signature on any document that has any kind of legal significance, or altering any part of the document itself, is illegal and is considered a felony offense.

penalty for forgery

One example is forging a principal’s signature on a fake high school diploma in order to get into a university. If you put a fake signature on something with no legal significance, such as a birthday card, that’s not a crime.

2. Issue, possess, or publish a piece of forged writing in order to impersonate someone or to claim a copy of an “original” document that never existed

Not only is the act of writing a fake signature on a legal document forgery, but so is possessing that document with the intent to defraud someone else. Forgery isn’t limited to printed documents, but can also apply to digital documents and official symbols, seals, or stamps. 

Penalties for forgery in Louisiana

Forgery is classified as a felony in Louisiana which is generally punishable by up to a $5,000 fine, or imprisonment, with or without hard labor,  a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, or both.

As a convicted felon, you’ll lose your right to vote and you might have a difficult time finding employment or a place to live due to the felony on your record. The exact penalties for forgery depend on the circumstances of the forgery. 

Knowingly using a forged academic record

You could face up to a $5,000 fine or a maximum six-month prison term, or both, for knowingly using any kind of forged academic record.

Making or distributing forged insurance documents

If convicted of trying to distribute forged documents for the purpose of committing insurance fraud, you’ll be looking at up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine, or both. 

Possible defenses for forgery

Of course, not every forgery charge results in a conviction. Your chances of avoiding a conviction increase with the help of a knowledgeable Lake Charles criminal law attorney who might use one of the following defenses. 

1. Intent

Even if someone makes a fake document, that doesn’t immediately mean they’ve committed forgery because the intent is what matters most. For example, you could’ve printed a bogus letter or contract to play a joke on someone without any criminal intent.

It can be hard for a prosecutor to prove you intended to use a fake document for criminal purposes and to intentionally defraud someone, but it will be harder if you have a strong legal representative by your side. 

2. Coercion

Coercion is when someone is forced to commit a criminal act, generally when threatened with physical force, intimidation, or other threats. If you were coerced into forging something, denying that you forged a document and then later claiming you were coerced will likely weaken your assertion of that defense. You should call an attorney right away so that you protect yourself. 

3. Legal significance

Again, the document in question needs to have some sort of legal significance, such as a contract, an insurance policy, a diploma, etc. If there’s no legal significance to the document, it will be very difficult to prove that forgery, as defined by Louisiana state law, occurred.

Arrested for forgery in Louisiana? Our expert attorneys can help.

Please don’t try to defend yourself against a forgery charge–the potential penalty for forgery is far too severe. Talk to a Lake Charles criminal law attorney with The Johnson Firm to find out more about how we may be of assistance. Call us at (337) 433-1414 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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