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Illinois Forgery Laws

The crime of forgery -- like those of issuing or delivering bad checks, bank-related fraud, and false impersonation -- is based on deception. Forgery and other deception-related offenses require that the person performing the criminal act have the intent to defraud for the purpose of financial gain or to cause financial loss to another. More specifically under Illinois forgery laws, a person commits forgery when he or she knowingly and with intent to defraud:

  • Makes or alters any document apparently capable of defrauding another;
  • Knowingly issues or delivers any such document;
  • Knowingly possesses, with the intent to issue or deliver, any such document;
  • Unlawfully uses another person's digital signature; or
  • Unlawfully uses another person's signature device (such as a PIN) to create his or her electronic signature.

Illinois Forgery Laws at a Glance

The following table highlights the main provisions of Illinois's forgery laws, including penalties and sentencing.


Illinois Statutes Section 5/17-3 (Forgery)

Penalties and Sentencing

In most cases, forgery is a Class 3 Felony that can be punishable by between 2-5 years in prison, periodic imprisonment of up to 18 months, probation or conditional discharge of up to 30 months, a fine of up to $25,000 for each offense, and/or restitution.

It's a Class 4 Felony when the forged document consists of only one Universal Price Code Label. Class 4 felonies are punishable between 1-3 years in prison, periodic imprisonment of up to 18 months, probation or conditional discharge of up to 30 months, a fine of up to $25,000, and/or restitution.

It's a Class A Misdemeanor when it involves forgery of an academic degree or coin which is punishable by less than 1 year in prison, probation, conditional discharge of up to 2 years, a fine of up to $2,500, and/or restitution However, if the degree explicitly states "for novelty purposes only," then no crime has occurred and no punishment will be levied.

  • Lack of intent to defraud or deceive
  • Mistake of fact
  • Duress or compulsion
  • Infancy (for persons under 13 years of age)
  • 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.

Illinois Forgery Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Help With Your Illinois Forgery Case

Chances are most people have signed in place of another person at some point in their lives -- whether it be for a spouse or an ailing parent under a power of attorney. However, what makes the act forgery in Illinois is the intent, something that a prosecutor has the burden to prove. If you've been accused of forgery, an expert Illinois criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in your case.

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