The crime of forgery involves:
Examples of fraud include:
In each example, the offender intends to alter a check or other document or instrument or to use a falsified document or instrument to get money or property that was not intended for the offender. For general information about forgery and fraud crimes, see Forgery Laws and Penalties.
In Oklahoma, almost all forgery crimes are categorized as forgery in the first or second degree, depending on the type of documents involved.
In Oklahoma, any forgery involving forgery in the first degree.
Forgery in the first degree is a felony punishable by seven to twenty years in prison.
All other forgery crimes in Oklahoma (except those listed as misdemeanors below) are classified as forgery in the second degree, including forging a personal check, creating false payment receipts, altering or falsifying judicial court records, or creating counterfeit gold or silver coins.
Forgery in the second degree is a felony in Oklahoma, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Two specific forgery crimes are misdemeanors in Oklahoma.
Forging a certificate of authority for an abstractor of title or forging any document or instrument an abstractor would prepare and sign is a misdemeanor. An abstractor of title is a person who prepares and certifies title history for parcels of real estate—a home, commercial building, or piece of land. An abstractor must have a certificate of authority to conduct business as an abstractor. The certificate is granted by each state’s government.
It also is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma to pay a person for labor or other personal services with a bad check or other forged form of payment either in advance or after the work is performed. This crime is punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine up to $500, or both.
A person charged with a forgery crime in Oklahoma can raise any general defense available in a criminal case such as mistaken identity—not being the person who committed the crime—or the defense that the crime did not occur (the signature on a document used in a financial transaction was not actually altered and the document does not contain a false signature, for instance).
A person charged with forgery also can raise the specific defense that he was authorized or believed in good faith that he was authorized to sign or alter a document, such as a check or other document.
The fact that the defendant was entitled to collect money from the victim or believed he was so entitled is not a defense to forgery. Likewise, forging a receipt to state a debt was paid in full is a crime even if the debt actually was paid in full.
If you are charged with a forgery crime—even a misdemeanor—you should contact an attorney immediately. A conviction for any of Oklahoma’s forgery crimes becomes part of your permanent criminal record whether the conviction is a felony or misdemeanor. A criminal conviction can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. A convicted felon also loses the right to vote and carry firearms and can lose certain professional licenses.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.