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Altering another’s writing or uttering a writing you know is forged is a serious crime under Iowa law that can result in life-changing penalties. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, forgery can either be charged as an aggravated misdemeanor or a felony. In either scenario, the penalties for the crime include incarceration and steep fines. Additionally, if you’re convicted, then you will not be able to expunge your record by any means. The arrest, charge and conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your days and because this is a crime of dishonesty it may inhibit you from building a career.

If you or someone you love has been accused of forgery, then it’s within your best interest to contact legal counsel. Experienced and skilled legal representation can dissect the prosecution’s case to find holes in their argument and therefore cast reasonable doubt you ever committed the crime. In addition, a knowledgeable defense lawyer can also reason with the prosecution to develop a plea deal that offers only minimal penalties. That way you can get your life back on track and move on from your past mistakes. Don’t wait another moment to protect your future and liberty by getting in contact with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Forgery Defense Attorney in Des Moines, Iowa

The penalties for forgery are incredibly severe and could uproot your life completely. Depending on the case, you could be sentenced to time behind bars, pay extraordinary fines, and even pay additional restitution to the alleged victim and their family. With so much at stake, it’s vital you have legal representation you can trust such as the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

The legal team at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. is composed of passionate and seasoned criminal defense attorneys who have represented clients in the greater Des Moines area collectively for forty years. A financial crime attorney from our firm can provide the guidance you need to navigate the court system while building a formidable defense to ensure you receive the best possible result for your case. To set up your first consultation with a Des Moines forgery attorney call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. today at (515) 279-9700.

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area including Ankeny, Altoona, Johnston, Polk City, Pleasant Hill, Bondurant, Windsor Heights, Adel, Perry, Dallas Center, Waukee, Redfield, Minburn, and Van Meter.

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What is Forgery and Uttering?

Forgery can be committed in a multitude of ways ranging from signing a forged check to altering another person’s will without authorization. The state of Iowa defines forgery under Section 715.A.2 of the Criminal Code, which states a person is guilty of forgery if they did any of the following with the intent to defraud or injure another person:

  • Altered another’s writing without authorization or consent.
  • Makes, completes, authenticates, issues, executes, or transfers a writing so that it seems to be the act of another person who didn’t authorize the action. This can also apply if the writing purports to have been executed at a time, place or numbered sequence other than what actually happened or if it purports to be a copy of an original when no original ever existed.
  • Utters a writing that the offender knows is forged
  • Possesses a writing in which the offender knows is forged

Not all writings are included in the definition of forgery under Iowa law. The Iowa Code states the writing must have two characteristics for the act to be considered forgery. First, the document must have some sort of legal significance. To fit this definition, the document must affect the legal rights and obligations of a singular person or persons. Government-issued documents such as driver’s licenses or money are some of the most commonly forged items and have legal significance. Other legal documents such as wills, medical prescriptions, and deeds of sale also are deemed to have legal significance by the court. Even forging a recommendation letter for a job or college application has legal significance in the eyes of the court and could result in forgery charges.

The second characteristic is the writing must be false or intentionally altered/fabricated so the victim of forgery believes the document is representing something it does not. For example, if a person fabricates a business agreement that was never negotiated and agreed upon, then they could be charged with forgery because they uttered a writing that was false and had legal significance according to the court.

The term “utter” or “uttering” may be confusing in the context of a forgery crime. According to Iowa’s Criminal Jury Instructions 1500.8, the term “utter” is used when a person creates/alters/authenticates/issues/transfers writing to another and represents it as genuine.

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Is Forgery a Felony in Iowa?

The sentencing for forgery depends on the facts of the case. The crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and no matter the result the penalties for the offense are life-changing. Forgery, however, can be charged as a felony if the writing is or purports to be:

  • A check, draft, or other writing which determines an obligation of the person who has purportedly authorized it or executed the writing.
  • Part of a bond, issue of stock, credit-sale contract, or claims against any enterprise or property.
  • Part of an issue of securities, postage, revenue stamps, money, or other instruments that have been issued by the government.
  • A document authorized by the appropriate laws for entry for an authorized stay or employment in the United States.

The penalty for forging any of the writings above is a class D felony, which is punishable by:

  • Up to five years in prison; and
  • A fine of no more than $10,245

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Misdemeanor Forgery Penalties in Iowa

If the act didn’t include any of the documents mentioned above, then instead you’ll face an aggravated misdemeanor. Usually, misdemeanor forgery crimes include forging a deed, will, contract, commercial instrument, or release. If convicted, then you’ll have both time in jail and serious court costs/fines that could drain your pockets.

The maximum punishment for an aggravated misdemeanor includes:

  • Up to two years in prison; and
  • A fine of no more than $8,540

It’s important to remember that whether you’re charged with a felony or misdemeanor you’ll still be required to also pay a 15% surcharge and $100 in court costs. Additionally, the judge may require you to pay restitution costs to the victim and their family as a punitive measure.

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Additional Resources

Iowa Forgery Laws – Visit the official website of the Iowa Legislature to look into Section 715A.2 of their Criminal Code to learn more about forgery. Access the site to read the statutory language for forgery, the elements of the crime, penalties, and other related criminal offenses.

Fraud.Org – Visit the official website for Fraud.Org, a project by the National Consumers League to spread awareness of fraudulent practices used in the United States. Access their site to learn more about their Fraud Alert System (FAS) and how it works to help people across the U.S.

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Defense Attorney for Forgery in Des Moines, IA

Have you been accused of forgery or another related fraudulent case? If so, we urge you to contact the experienced attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. for legal representation. Our legal team has represented numerous people of white-collar crimes and produced promising results. They can examine the facts of your case and develop an argument, so you face minimal penalties or have your case dismissed altogether.

Set up your first consultation with the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. by calling us at (515) 279-9700. We will sit with you, hear your case, and begin creating a defense plan right there. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. is based in West Des Moines, but we accept clients throughout the greater Des Moines, Polk County, and Dallas County area.

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