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Florida Forgery Laws

Overview of Florida Forgery Laws

Florida criminalizes several offenses stemming from the commission of forgery. A person commits forgery when, with intent to injure or defraud any person, he or she "falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits" any written instrument specified in the state forgery statute. Documents specifically prohibited from being forged include:

  • a public record, certificate, return or attestation of any clerk or register of a court, public register, notary public, town clerk or any public officer, where such certificate, return or attestation may be received as a legal proof in relation to a matter
  • a charter, deed, will, testament, bond, or writing obligatory, letter of attorney, policy of insurance, bill of lading, bill of exchange or promissory note
  • an order, acquittance, or discharge for money or other property
  • an acceptance of a bill of exchange or promissory note for the payment of money
  • any receipt for money, goods or other property
  • any passage ticket, pass or other evidence of transportation issued by a common carrier

Here is important information about Florida’s forgery and where to go to find an attorney if you’ve been charged with this serious financial crime.

Statutes

Florida Statutes Section 831.01

Forgery Elements

To secure a conviction for forgery, the prosecution must therefore prove that the defendant:

  1. made, altered, forged or counterfeited
  2. a written instrument falsely purporting to be that of another person or entity
  3. and appearing to have some legal significance
  4. with intent to injure or defraud any person

Intent: Requires that the defendant have made or altered the forged instrument with the specific intent to injure, that is, to prejudice or defraud another person. Although the defendant must act with such intent, he or she need not actually injure or defraud another person to complete the crime.

Uttering a forged instrument is a separate offense under the statute. A person is guilty of this offense when he or she "utters and publishes as true a false, forged or altered record, deed, instrument or other writing… knowing the same to be false, altered, forged or counterfeited, with intent to injure or defraud any person." The offense applies only to those records and documents, listed above, which are expressly enumerated in the forgery statute.

Penalties and Sentencing

Florida classifies basic forgery as a felony of the third degree. Conviction for uttering a forged instrument, and all other crimes classified as forgery crimes, are also felonies of the third degree.

  • Up to five years in prison.
  • Up to five years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent to injure or defraud
  • Lack of knowledge that a writing was forged
  • Insanity

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Forgery Laws: Related Resources

Free Case Review

Stealing another person’s John Hancock for monetary gain will land you in a whole lot of trouble. If you are charged with multiple violations of this offense, the stakes are even higher. Why not give yourself peace of mind and speak with a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney today to learn what defenses may be available to you? The last thing you want is a financial crimes conviction on your record. Start with a free case review today.

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