We see it in the movies – the forging of a document or manipulation of a record – often to great fanfare and success, but that is in the movies. In real life, and in Louisiana, forgery is a felony crime.
Louisiana recognizes two forms of forgery. On the one hand, it is against the law for a person to forge a signature, or part of a writing, that is intended to have legal efficacy. To be a crime, a person must forge with the intent to defraud another. Additionally, the crime of forgery includes the possession, issuance or transference of a forged writing with the intent to defraud. The alleged offender must know that the writing is a forged writing for it to be a crime.
Under Louisiana law, a “writing” does not simply mean a piece of paper. A writing may constitute coins, tokens, stamps, credit cards, badges or money. Of course, writing will include printed material, but other methods of recording information may also constitute a writing.
A prosecutor accusing a person of forging is alleging that a person has altered, executed or authenticated a writing and is trying to pass the writing off as something different than the original. This may take several forms. For example, a prosecutor may allege that a person tried to pass off a writing as the writing of another who did not authorize the act, or that a writing was executed at a time different than which it was originally executed, or as a copy of an original when in fact an original does not exist.
A conviction for the crime of forgery carries a possible fine of up to five thousand dollars, as well as a maximum potential prison sentence of ten years. The crime of forgery has many potential complexities, including whether an alleged offender had knowledge of a forged writing or whether he or she had the intent to defraud. It is imperative that a person facing forgery allegations has a strong proponent in his or her corner to aid in his or her defense.
Source: Louisiana State Legislature, Louisiana Revised Statute Sec. 14:72, accessed July 11, 2015