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Arizona Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws

Forgery and counterfeiting are crimes that have been around for a long time, but can also be committed with the help of new and developing technologies. In Arizona, a person commits forgery by:

  • Falsely making, altering, or completing a written instrument with the intent to defraud, or
  • Possessing a fake written instrument, when the person knows that the document is fake or contains false information and intends to use it to defraud others, or
  • Presents such a fake written instrument, whether accepted or not.

Read on to learn more about Arizona forgery and counterfeiting laws.

Forgery Defined

A "written instrument" is defined as any paper, document or other instrument that contains written or printed matter, or any token, stamp, seal, badge, trademark, graphical image, access device or other evidence or symbol of value, right, privilege or identification.

In addition, an "intent to defraud" is the state of mind or intention to trick or deceive. For example, if someone forges a celebrity's signature for the purposes of entertainment, art or commentary, they may not have the intent to defraud. On the other hand, if that same person forges a celebrity's signature to sell it as an original (when it is cleary not), that person would possess the intent to defraud.

Arizona Forgery & Counterfeiting Laws at a Glance

The penalties for forgery and counterfeiting in Arizona are covered in the table below.

Crime / Penalties



If someone is convicted of forgery, they are guilty of:

  • Class 4 felony
  • Punishable by a minimum sentence of 1 year, a maximum sentence of 3.75 years

If however the forgery is done in connection with the purchase, lease or renting of a dwelling that is used as a drop house, defined as a property used to facilitate smuggling:

  • Class 3 felony
  • Punishable by a minimum sentence of 2 years, a maximum sentence of 8.75 years

Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2002

Making or Possessing Forgery Tools

Making or possessing a forgery tool with the intent to commit fraud:

  • Class 6 felony
  • Punishable by a minimum sentence of 1 year, a maximum sentence of 2 years

Making or possessing a forgery tool with the intent to use it to commit forgery

  • Class 5 felony
  • Punishable by a minimum sentence of 2 years, a maximum sentence of 2.5 years

Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2003

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.

Forgery Tools

In Arizona, it's also a crime to make or possess forgery tools, with the intent to commt fraud or the intent to commit forgery. Forgery tools are defined as any equipment or goods - including computer software - designed for use in forgery, such as any plate, die, or other device, apparatus, equipment, software, access device, article, material, good, property or supply specifically designed or adapted for use in forging written instruments.

Potential Defenses

A potential defense to both forgery and making/possessing a forgery tool is if you are a peace officer or prosecutor commiting forgery in the performance of your duties -- in that situation, you would not be guilty of the crime. Another potential defense is to argue that you lacked the intent to defraud (for forgery), or you lacked the intent to commit fraud or to use a forgery tool to commit forgery (for the crime of making or possessing a forgery tool).

Research The Law:

Charged with Forgery in Arizona? Get Legal Help

In Arizona, a conviction for forgery or making/possessing forgery tools can carry serious prison time. However, there are various defenses that apply to both crimes. If you want to learn more about the penalties or defenses associated with forgery and counterfeiting in Arizona, you can contact an experienced criminal defense attorney near you today.

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