Forgery is defined as a crime in which a legal material or instrument is altered or copied with the intention to defraud a person or an organization. A person is found guilty of forgery in Virginia if this person intentionally copies or alters a legal document, note or certificate. To prove that an act of forgery has taken place, there must be evidence that shows several actions or certain material. While most fraud cases are misdemeanors of class one, forgery is a felony of either class five or six. Punishments for forgery range from hefty fees that may reach $100,000 and prison time for a period that may reach but not extend ten years.
Forgery laws in Virginia state that in a case where a person is convicted to have defrauded another, there must be certain evidence or elements given to prove that the crime happened. The first element present is evidence proving that the convicted person did alter or copy a document, note, or certificate. The second evidence needed is to prove that the document, note or certificate is actually altered or copied. The third element is to prove that the document, note or certificate is legal and not a simple paper with irrelevant significance. The fourth evidence is to prove that the convicted person forged the document, note, certificate intentionally. The fifth element is to show that the forged document, note or certificate does appear as a document, note or certificate that would not make a person doubt it. The last evidence has to show that the convicted person gained something from altering or copying the document, note or certificate.
The kind of punishment for forgery depends on the category of the type of forgery among the felony classes. If the person alters or copies a public legal document, note or certificate or forges a stamp that approves of documents in a certain organization, the forgery will be categorized among class four felony crimes. Class four felony crimes are punished by fines that may go up to $100,000 and/or a period that may extend but not exceed ten years in prison. The forgery of a signature is a class five felony that is punished by a fee of $2500, one year in jail or a period between one to ten years in prison. The period at which the person may stay in prison depends on the value of the signature and its legal importance. A simple act of forgery may affect the person’s whole life due to the severe punishments that come when a forgery is found to have happened.
Forgery laws in the state of Virginia are very strict when it comes to evidence and punishment. Clear evidence that may be hard to obtain is needed to prove that a person is guilty of defrauding another or if a person did an act of forgery by altering or copying a legal document, note or certificate. Punishments are stricter when it comes to forgery because this criminal act is recognized as either a class five or class four felony in Virginia.