Illinois Forgery

The Law – 720 ILCS 5/17-3

A person commits forgery when, with intent to defraud, he or she knowingly:

  1. Makes a false document or alters any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or

  2. Possess, with intent to issue or deliver, any such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or

  3. Issues or delivers such documents knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or

  4. Unlawfully uses the digital signature of another; or

  5. Unlawfully uses the signature device of another to create an electronic signature of that other person.

As with many crimes in Illinois, a key element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge or jury can find a person guilty of forgery is that the individual has the required criminal intent. With forgery, an individual must 1) intend to defraud another person or institution, and 2) knowingly commit the prohibited act. These prohibited acts include creating or changing a document, be in possession of a created or altered document, transfer said document or use without authorization another’s signature digitally. For instance, if a person is selling his car, receives a check for the price of the car, the check appears to be authentic and genuine, and then goes to the bank to cash it, it will be difficult for the State to meet its burden of proof and obtain a conviction. In this example, that person who sold his car and thought the check was genuine a) did not intend on defrauding the bank and b) did not and could not have known that the check was fraudulent.

The Sentence

CLASS 3 FELONY - 2 TO 5 YEARS

CLASS 4 FELONY IF ONE UPC LABEL IS FORGED
– 1 TO 3 YEARS

CLASS A MISDEMEANOR IF ACADEMIC DEGREE OR COIN IS FORGED – UP TO 364 DAYS

Probation Possible? Yes.

Supervision Possible? Yes – on the misdemeanor charge.

Success Story: We had represented a person charged with forgery, theft, and other crimes. His former boss had told the police that our client had signed the boss’ name to checks that our client had written to himself, and deposited the checks in his own bank account. In fact, our client did sign his boss’ Name to the checks. This is because the boss had authorized it, not just for these checks, but for dozens upon dozens of other checks. We issued subpoenas to obtain copies of all checks ever written from the account, and found that our client had signed the boss’ name to about 60% of all checks, including checks for rent, utilities and other bills. It was obvious that the boss had authorized the signed of his name to the check by our client. Our client also claimed that the checks that were written to him, over a four year period, were authorized by the boss as additional salary and compensation. After presenting the State with the bank account records, and a report from a handwriting expert who would testify that our client had signed over 60% or all checks as stated above, the State dismissed all of the charges. The State knew it would not be able to prove that our client signed the checks with any intent to defraud.

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James A. Payonk, Jr.

~ Attorney at Law ~

10705 W 159th St.
Orland Park, Illinois 60467

(708) 633-6005