Virginia Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws

A drug addict replicates a physician's signature to obtain prescription medication; an opportunist creates a false deed of sale; an employee changes the figures on a check. These are examples of forgery, a crime that includes a broad range of activities where the perpetrator intends to deceive a person or entity.

Forgery in Virginia

Specifically, in Virginia, you commit forgery when you (with the intent to commit fraud) create, alter, or use a false document that affects another person's legal rights or responsibilities. To be a "false" document means that the writing was intentionally created or changed in a way that it becomes a misrepresentation, giving rise to criminal charges or civil liability.

Counterfeiting in Virginia

Another form of forgery is counterfeiting, which involves a false version of the money (coins, bills, or notes) presently used in Virginia. It's illegal to make fake money and to pass it off or "utter" fake money for value.

North Carolina Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws at a Glance

A lawyer's interpretation is necessary for a complete analysis of any statute. However, it never hurts to know what the law means without having to decipher legal jargon; having explanations in everyday terms and phrases can help. The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to Virginia's forgery and counterfeiting laws.

Statutes

  • Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-168 (forging, uttering public records)
  • Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-169 (forging or keeping an instrument for forging)
  • Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-172 (forging, uttering other writings)
  • Va. Code Ann. Sections 18.2-170, 18.2-171, 18.2-173 (counterfeiting offenses)

 

Penalties and Sentencing

 

Forging public records and uttering a forged public document:

  • Class 4 felony, punishable by a minimum prison term of 2 years, maximum term of 10 years and/or fines up to $100,000.

Keeping an instrument for forging:

  • Class 4 felony, punishable by a prison term of 2-10 years and/or fines not to exceed $100,000.

Forging and uttering other writings:

  • Class 5 felony, punishable by 2-10 years prison time, fines up to $2,500 or both.

Knowingly possessing counterfeit money:

  • If the actor possessed less than 10 forged coins or notes simultaneously, it constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor, penalized by a fine up to $500.
  • More than 10 coins or notes: Class 6 felony, punishable with up to 5 years in prison.

Making or possessing counterfeiting tools:

  • Class 4 felony, punished by 2-10 years prison time and/or a fine up to $100,000.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent

Related Offenses

  • Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-178 (obtaining money or signature by pretense:)
  • Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-186.3 (identity fraud)

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.

Virginia Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws: Related Resources

Take Control of your Forgery Case with a Virginia Attorney's Help

Virginia's forgery and counterfeiting laws are complex and convoluted. If you've been accused of violating their provisions, you should be proactive in defending yourself. Take control of your case by consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate the evidence and your available options right away.

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