Uttering a forged instrument: A crime in Oklahoma related to forgery.
We typically think of forgery as the signing of someone’s name to a document or a check without permission, and that crime would be a forgery. But there are many ways in which forgery occurs. In Oklahoma, it involves either making, altering or signing a document — either financial or other type — with the intent to commit fraud. This would be signing a check without permission. Alternatively, it can also be the use or presenting of a forged document or other forged financial instrument, including coins, with the intent to defraud. This is presenting the check to another person and that can be deemed a crime of uttering a forged instrument.
In Oklahoma, uttering a forged instrument, financial instrument, coin or the like, occurs if you sell, exchange, or deliver it, knowing that it is forged, in exchange for money, goods, services, or any other type of consideration. Likewise, the person who receives it knowing that it is a forgery is said to be uttering a forged document. It is considered to be forgery in the third degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1577
So if I forge my uncle’s name on a check and make it out to you to buy a new iPhone and you know that the check has been forged and you take it any way, we have both “uttered a forgery” — we have put that forged check into circulation, thus uttering a forged instrument.
In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove:
- That the act was intentional;
- There was a sale, exchange or delivery or receipt of the document;
- For consideration;
- That the instrument was false; and
- That the defendant knew it to be false. (OUJI-CR 5-69)
If the prosecution is unable to prove all of these elements, there is no conviction.
Forgery of Various Instruments
Here are some ways in which uttering a forged instrument occurs.
- Forgery of wills, trusts, and deeds is forgery in the first degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1561
- Forgery of stock certificates or securities is considered forgery in the first degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1562
- Forgery of a record of conveyance — including wills, trusts and the like — constitutes forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1572
- Forgery of engraving plates used for promissory notes, drafts, checks, certificates of deposit (CDs) or other financial instruments is forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1575
- Coin forgery is counterfeiting and is chargeable as forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1583
Thus, forging a document is one crime, and putting that forged document into public circulation is another.
Penalties For Forgery
A conviction in the first degree is punishable by a prison term of from seven to 10 years. A conviction in the second degree is punishable by a prison term of up to seven years. Both of these convictions are felonies in Oklahoma. A conviction in the third degree is punishable by both jail and a fine — up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000 if the forgery involves less than $1,000, and jail up to seven years if the forgery involves $1,000 or more. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1621
All types of forgery carry the possibility of jail time if you are convicted. Jail time changes your life. Whether it is six months or seven years, a conviction will affect you for years to come, even after you are released.
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