Forgery Laws in North Carolina

It is a felony crime in North Carolina for any person to counterfeit or even possess currency, securities, wills, and many other important documents with the intent to defraud another person.

For information about forgery in general, see our article Forgery Laws and Penalties.

What is Forgery in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, a person commits forgery by creating, altering, or possessing counterfeit:

  • any financial instruments, including bank notes or other currency
  • wills, deeds, leases, promissory notes, or any order for the payment of money or delivery of goods
  • corporate stock, bonds, or other securities, or
  • educational certificates, diplomas, licenses or other similar documents.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § §14-119, 14-121, 14-122, 14-124, 14-125.)

“Uttering” a forged item

In addition, any person who “utters,” or attempts to cash, transfer, or otherwise use a forged item, is guilty of a felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-120.)

Selling a forged item

It is also a felony in North Carolina for any person to sell, transfer, endorse, or otherwise present to any other person a forged judgment, bond, promissory note, or similar order for payment in exchange for money or to satisfy a debt.(N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-121.)

Unsuccessful intent to defraud is enough

Although intent to defraud another person or the government with the counterfeit instrument is required to prove forgery in North Carolina, it is not essential that anyone actually be defrauded. So, a person may be convicted of forgery simply by creating counterfeit currency with the intent to use it, for example, even if she is arrested before she defrauds anyone with the fake money. In contrast, an artist who creates a very realistic picture of a $100 bill with no intent to actually try to use it probably could not be convicted of forgery because she lacked the intent to defraud anyone.

How is Forgery Punished in North Carolina?

With the exception of forged educational certificates, all forms of forgery in North Carolina are felony crimes. The punishment faced by a person convicted differs based on the type of forgery charged.

Forged instruments

Creating, altering, or possessing a forged instrument is a Class I felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-119.) A person convicted of this crime faces four to ten months in prison, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Possessing or transporting five or more forged instruments is a Class G felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-119.) A person convicted of this crime faces ten to 25 months in prison, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Wills, deeds, leases, etc.

Creating, altering, or possessing a forged will, deed, lease, or similar document is a Class H felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-122.) A person convicted of this crime faces five to 20 months in prison, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Corporate securities

Creating, altering, or possessing a forged stock certificate, bond, or similar corporate security is a Class I felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-124.) A person convicted of this crime faces four to ten months in prison, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Educational certificates

Creating, altering, or possessing a forged diploma, license, or similar educational certificate is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-122.1.) A person convicted of this crime faces up to 45 days in jail, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23.)

Uttering a forged item

Cashing, transferring, endorsing, or otherwise using a forged item is a Class I felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-120.) A person convicted of this crime faces four to ten months in prison, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Selling a forged item

Selling or transferring a forged item in exchange for money or anything of value is a Class H felony in North Carolina. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-121.) A person convicted of this crime faces five to 20 months' incarceration, a fine at the discretion of the sentencing court, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.17.)

Talk to an Attorney

Forgery is a serious crime in North Carolina and a conviction can carry a heavy penalty. If you have questions about the crime of forgery, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.

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