Pittston, PA asked in Criminal Law and White Collar Crime for Pennsylvania

Q: Is signature forgery always a crime no matter the circumstances surrounding it?

If a signature on a document is forged where there will be no financial gain, is that less serious than forging, say, a check? If a signature is forged on a birthday card, for example, without the person’s knowledge or permission, would this be punishable in court? It is, I would say, a little dishonest, since you would be trying to pass off the card as coming from someone else, but is it a crime?

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles E. Dutko Jr.
Charles E. Dutko Jr.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Kutztown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: The short answer is "Yes," it is a crime. The key to Pennsylvania's forgery statute is that there must be an "intent to defraud or injure." Whether a crime is committed is not determined by the outcome, i.e. a financial gain by the actor, but by whether the actor's intent was to defrauded or injured. Hope this helps.

Mr. Ryan L Hyde agrees with this answer

Mr. Ryan L Hyde
Mr. Ryan L Hyde
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Exton , PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Signing a persons name on something in and of itself is not forgery. As Mr. Dutko stated there is an additional element. You have to intend to defraud the other person. Now, you could read a lot of books about what defraud means (and prosecutors read these books too), but if there is no intent to hurt the person you dont have forgery. Keep in mind, your actual intent is rarely something the Commonwealth can show, they can prove circumstantially your intent. Which means though you may have had a harmless intent, circumstances may show, or lead a jury to believe it wasnt so innocent.

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