Forgery Charges in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Forgery Attorneys

Information about Forgery Penalties and Laws in Pennsylvania

Forgery charges are very serious, whether the crime was simply writing a signing someone else’s signature on a check or whether it was within a more complex crime, like identity theft.

Even a minor forgery crime, like writing a bad check, can result in jail time a permanent stain on your criminal record, making it difficult to find employment, housing or loans for the rest of your life.

In addition, forgery may be a federal crime if the documents forged were federal documents or involved counterfeit money. If so, you will need a Pennsylvania federal crime attorney to defend your case, as this falls outside Pennsylvania jurisdiction.

If you have been charged with forgery, you should seek the help of an experienced and aggressive Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney immediately. Protecting your rights, your freedom and your good name are important for your future.

An arrest is not a conviction.

It is important to not despair if you were charged with a crime. In many instances, charges can be reduced or dropped altogether.

A successful Pittsburgh Fraud Lawyer can help you understand your charges and provide sound legal defense against deficient or flawed evidence and possible simple misunderstandings.


Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation


Forgery Defined Under Pennsylvania Law

Forgery is the act of recreating someone else’s signature or reproducing any document, financial document or bank note or work of art. For this to be a crime, the person must have had intent to defraud someone with the forgery.

Forgery can also mean altering a document or knowingly writing a check with insufficient funds available in the account, or altering the amount on checks. It can also mean altering other documents, like transcripts, deeds, or financial documents to commit identity fraud.

The Pennsylvania Code §4101 Forgery is defined as the following:

A person is guilty of forgery if, with intent to defraud or injure anyone, or with knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone, the actor:

(1)  alters any writing of another without his authority;

(2)  makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed; or

(3)  utters any writing which he knows to be forged in a manner specified in paragraphs (1) or (2) of this subsection.

Examples of forgery crimes:

    • Forging a signature on a check;
    • Cashing a forged signature;
    • Creating a fake document;
    • Altering the amount on check;
    • Altering a financial document, like a money order or bond;
    • Altering a will;
    • Reproducing a work of art;
    • Altering a contract;
    • Altering a driver’s license.


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Penalties for a Forgery Conviction in Pennsylvania

To be charged with forgery, it is likely that a person was accused of fraud in some capacity. The intent to defraud someone also has to be present in order for a person to be convicted.

Penalties for a conviction depend on the value or amount of the property or money obtained in the fraudulent crime, but all can result in jail time and heavy fines.

Whether a theft charge ends up being a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction can have a major impact on your future and your family’s future. It can be very difficult to get a job once you have a criminal conviction for forgery on your record.

The following penalties apply for forgery convictions. These penalties increase substantially if this is a second offense.

Forgery—Summary Offenses and Misdemeanors

  • Items $200 or less: A summary offense, up to 90 days in jail and up to $300 in fines;
  • Between $200 and $500: Third-degree misdemeanor, six months to one year in prison, and up to $2,500 in fines;
  • Between $500 and $999: A second-degree misdemeanor, up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000;
  • Over $1,000: A first-degree misdemeanor, up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000


  • A forgery involving legal documents, like a will or contract: A third-degree felony, up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $15,000;
  • A forgery involving government documentation, such as a driver’s license: A second-degree felony, up to ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $25,000


Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation


Forgery as a Federal Crime

If you were charged with a federal crime, like counterfeiting money, forging government documents or committing fraud against the federal government, your case will be prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney.

These charges are much more serious and you will need a qualified Federal Crime Lawyer to represent you and defend your case in court.

The penalties for a forgery conviction for a federal crime include prison time and steep fines, as well as paying back the money defrauded. It is very likely that your assets will be seized.

Defending Your Rights Against Forgery Charges

Being charged with forgery or fraud does not necessarily mean you will be convicted—building a strong legal defense can help protect your rights and freedom.

At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed.

There are several defenses that a criminal attorney could use to help your case.

The first being, that the accused did not have the intention to defraud or injure a person by means of the forgery.

In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent was there in order to convict a person of forgery.

A person may not have intended for the forgery to be a crime, if for example, they thought they had permission to alter a document or they were unaware the document was forged, or if they thought there were sufficient funds in their account when a check was written.

If a person thought in good faith that they could alter a document, then no crime was committed.

Another defense could be a case of mistaken identity or that there was no actual crime committed and the alleged victim is being dishonest.

How Ketchel Law Can Help

A strong defense attorney that pursues every angle in a case can make the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict—the difference between your freedom and being locked up.

We will stick with you from start to finish.

From the moment you engage Ketchel Law to represent you, we will work tirelessly to ensure every aspect of your defense is addressed at every phase. We will make certain you understand your rights and options so that you are prepared at every turn.

From pre-trial hearings through the trial and beyond, we will fight to have your charges dropped or significantly reduced.

At Ketchel Law, our attorneys will listen to your case closely and ask you questions to fully understand the charges and your side of the story. Then we will obtain all the materials and documentation relevant to the investigation, analyze these materials and present you with options for proceeding.

We will work closely with you to find the best course of action in defending your rights and your freedom.

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