The crime of forgery in Ohio consists of a wide variety of potentially fraudulent actions that are willfully committed in an attempt, or with the intent to defraud another person. These forgery actions might include:
- Signing someone else’s name on a legitimate document with the desire to benefit from that signature
- Changing a document, or changing the details on a document for another person without that person’s authorization to do so
- Creating a fake identification card or altering a real identification card so that it shows false information, such as a different date of birth, age, or name.
- Distributing or selling a forged identification card
- Presenting or using a forced document, such as using a forged check to be cashed at the bank, or having the possession of a forget document with intent to use it
In Ohio, signing someone else’s name on a check and cashing the check at a bank are both considered to be crimes of forgery. The fraudulent aspects of these crimes is to obtain money that does not belong to you, or was not intended to be for you. Presenting or using a forged document can sometimes be referred to as “uttering” the document in an Ohio forgery case.
Laws and Penalties
Intentionally forging cards for identification or selling false identification cards that were created by someone else is considered to be a misdemeanor of the first degree in Ohio. Any other crime of forgery is regarded as a crime in the fifth degree, except for in a series of very specific circumstances as outlined by the jurisdictions of Ohio.
If services or property are involved in a crime of forgery, for example, the offense might involve a forged real estate document or the fraudulent sale of a piece of land, or the victim in question within the forgery case suffers a loss, such as a loss of money or property, then the crime is a felony of the fourth degree if the loss value is over $7,500, but less than $150,000. However, it is important to note that the felony rises to become third degree if the victim in the case is classed as legally disabled or elderly, and if the value of the services, property, or loss, is more than $150,000.
In the case wherein the value of the loss in the forgery is more than $150,000, and the victim is considered to be disabled or elderly, the crime will be classed as a second degree felony.
Possible sentences for crimes of forgery in Ohio are varied, but they depend on the level of the crime. For example, a felony of the fifth degree will earn up to $2,500 in fines, and/or a period of up to twelve months in prison. On the other hand, a felony of the fourth degree results in up to eighteen months in prison, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
A felony of the third degree in Ohio earns up to five years in prison, and /or a fine of up to $10,000, and a felony of the second degree can result in up to eight years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
The crime of forging identification cards or selling false information, which is considered a misdemeanor forgery act, is punishable by up to 180 days in jail for a first offense. In a second offense, the court of Ohio will also impose a fine of at least $250.
For people in Ohio who are charged with the crime of forgery, they can raise any defense that might be applicable in a case such as mistaken identity – proof that they are not the person that committed a crime, or the defense that the crime didn’t occur in the first place.
In some circumstances, a person charged with forgery can also raise a defense that he or she was authorized to use another person’s signature, or apparently forged item. The fact that a defendant was entitled or owed money from a victim is not classed as a defense to forgery. It is also not a defense to claim that the defendant owed a debt from the victim.
Statute of Limitations
For a misdemeanor forgery conviction, the statute of limitations in Ohio is only two years. However, if the misdemeanor is considered a minor offense, the state will only have six months to prosecute. On the other hand, the statute of limitations for a felony case is much longer, typically between three to five years.