What is the Law on Forgery in Tennessee and What are the Punishments for it?
Forgery is an attempt to harm or defraud by using writing that has been altered without the knowledge or consent of the authorized person. The definition of forgery can be wider or narrower depending on state law. In Tennessee, the law is defined under the Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14. Let us find out exactly what are the different types of forgery as per the Code.
Forgery according to §39-14-114
The law on forgery in Tennessee covers many different types of forgery including alteration, authentication, completion, execution, and making of any form of writing in a way that it is made to seem like the work of another person who has not in fact authorized the act. The above types of forgery also apply to writing that is made to appear as though it was executed at a date or location where it was not originally, or writing that is created as a copy where the original does not in fact exist.
Other forms of forgery as per the law include creating false entries into records and books, issuance, transferring, and publishing of forged writing. Even possession of forged writing with an intent to put it into circulation is covered within the scope of Tennessee Law.
Types of Forgery
It is not just printed documents that fall under the scope of forged writing. When it comes to forgery, writing can also include falsified seals, trademarks, credit cards, among others.
Some common examples of forgery offenses are changing the amount written on a check, making a fake document to transfer property, creating fake certificates, and alteration of financial documents. Most forgery is done with the intention of gaining financial profit, which is why the law, as well as the charges as penalties, are structured around the value of the property involved.
Charges for Forgery as per §39-14-105
Just like theft, a person accused of forgery will be charged according to the monetary value of the crime committed. Higher the value, the higher the charge. As per the Tennessee Code, the charges are outlined in §39-14-105, in which forgery invites a minimum Class E felony charge. A detailed outline of the charges is given below:
- Class E Felony: This is for property valued between $500 and $1,000.
- Class D Felony: This is for property valued between $1,000 and $10,000.
- Class C Felony: This is for property valued between $10,000 and $60,000.
- Class B Felony: This is for property valued between $60,000 and $250,000.
- Class A Felony: This is for property valued to be more than $250,000.
Penalties for Forgery as per §40-35-111
The penalty for committing forgery is fixed based on the charges. The sentence can range from 1 to 3 years imprisonment and up to $3,000 in fines for a Class E felony, going up to 15 to 60 years imprisonment and up to $50,000 in fines for those charged with a Class A felony. A detailed listing of the penalties according to §40-35-111 is given below:
- Class E Felony: 1 to 3 years imprisonment and fines up to $3,000.
- Class D Felony: 2 to 12 years imprisonment and fines up to $5,000.
- Class C Felony: 3 to 15 years imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.
- Class B Felony: 8 to 30 years imprisonment and fines up to $25,000.
- Class A Felony: 15 to 60 years imprisonment and fines up to $50,000.
Since forgery is always charged as a felony offense, it is guaranteed that a person convicted of forgery will be sent to prison and get a criminal record. In order to avoid conviction, one can either prepare an adequate defense or negotiate a plea bargain.