Forgery Laws in Connecticut

Forgery – falsifying, creating, or copying a document, signature, or symbol with the intent to deceive or trick others – is a crime. In Connecticut, it is a crime both to make or alter written documents, and to possess forged documents with the intent to defraud others. For more general information on forgery and fraud crimes, see Forgery Laws and Penalties, Laws on Fraud, and Counterfeiting Laws and Penalties.

Forgery

A person commits the crime of forgery (sometimes called forgery in the third degree) when, with intent to defraud, the person makes, completes, or alters a written document or offers or possesses a written document that the person knows to be forged. Examples of forgery include:

  • a historian creating a document that purports to be a letter from a famous author to sell at an auction
  • a lawyer deleting important paragraphs from a client’s will and passing the changed document off as the original, and
  • a patient signing a nurse practitioner’s name to a prescription for medication.

Connecticut’s laws punish forgery of certain official and financial documents more severely, including:

  • money
  • stocks, bonds, and other securities
  • stamps
  • wills, deeds, contracts, and other legal documents
  • public and government records, and
  • drug prescriptions.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. § § 53a-137, 53a-138, 53a-139, 53a-140.)

Intent to defraud

People may create and change documents without committing forgery so long as they do not have the intent to defraud (deceive, trick, or cause injury – including financial loss – to others). For example, a lawyer who makes changes to a contract during the course of a negotiation has not committed forgery as long as the lawyer shows the other party the changes made. However, if a neighbor offers to help an elderly woman pay her bills and signs the woman’s name to a check without permission in order to steal from her, then the neighbor could be convicted of forgery.

Forgery of symbols

It is also a crime in Connecticut to forge or possess a forged token, public transit transfers, or any other object used in place of money for the purchase of property or services, such as a ticket, with the intent to deceive or defraud others. This crime is called forgery of symbols of value and would include, for example, forging a bus pass. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-142.)

Punishment

Forgery of symbols of value is a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors in Connecticut, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Forgery of official and financial documents is a class C or D felony, punishable by one to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000, or a state prison term of one to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. Otherwise, forgery is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For more information on sentencing, see Connecticut Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences and Connecticut Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.

Obtaining Legal Assistance

A conviction for forgery or a related crime can have serious consequences, such as time in prison or jail, a fine, and a criminal record. Any time you are charged with or accused of a crime, you should immediately contact a Connecticut criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you how your case is likely to fare in court, depending on the charges and how local judges and prosecutors typically handle such cases. An attorney can help you successfully navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.

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