Can You Face Forgery Charges for Signing Someone Else’s Name?
It is not uncommon for someone to ask you to sign their name on a document, whether it is for a business or personal reason. This can be innocently done without much thought about the legal consequences. However, Georgia has strict laws against forgery.
This means that you can potentially face forgery charges if you sign someone else’s name without their permission. Our Fulton County criminal defense lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers can help you avoid or minimize the potentially disastrous consequences of a forgery conviction.
What Is Forgery in Georgia?
Under Georgia Code § 16-9-1, forgery is defined as the act of knowingly and willfully making, altering or possessing any writing in a way that is intended to defraud or deceive. This includes signing someone else’s name to a document without their permission. If you do, it is considered a crime punishable by a fine and up to 15 years in prison. Forgery is a serious crime in Georgia, and it is not something you want to take chances with.
What Are the Penalties?
The severity of the punishment depends on the circumstances surrounding the forgery. If the document was for financial gain or fraudulent purposes, the punishment is harsher than if it was for a non-fraudulent reason like signing for a family member. Nonetheless, signing someone else’s name without their permission is considered a criminal act, no matter what kind of document it is.
What if the Forged Document Causes No Harm?
It is important to note that even if the forged document causes no harm, you can still be charged with forgery. The act of forging a document can be seen as a crime on its own, even if the document was not used for any fraudulent purpose. That is why you should always be careful when signing someone else’s name, even if it seems harmless at first.
One exception to the forgery law in Georgia is when it comes to power of attorney. A power of attorney document allows someone to act on behalf of another person, so signing their name is considered legal in this instance. However, it is crucial to make sure you have the proper documentation and permission in these situations to avoid any legal issues.
Defenses to Forgery Charges
There are several defense strategies that may be available to you to avoid a forgery conviction:
- Lack of intent. If you can prove that you did not have the intent to deceive or defraud, you may be able to avoid a conviction. For example, if you were given permission or believed that the other person had given you permission to sign their name, you may be able to argue that you were not trying to deceive anyone.
- Consent. Another potential defense to forgery charges is to argue that you had the consent of the person whose name you signed. This defense works especially well if you can prove that the person you signed for was aware of the situation and had no objections to your signing their name.
- Mistake. In some cases, you may be able to argue that you signed the other person’s name by mistake. For instance, if you mistakenly believed that you had the authority to sign a document, you may be able to use that as a defense in court.
- Duress or coercion. It is also possible to argue that you were forced to sign the other person’s name. If you were coerced or threatened into signing a document, it may be possible to argue that you did so under duress and that you should not be held responsible for the forgery.
Talk to a lawyer to discuss possible defenses to forgery charges in your particular case.
Facing Forgery Charges? Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers
Forgery is a serious crime in Georgia, and signing someone else’s name without their permission can come with severe consequences. If you are facing forgery charges after signing someone else’s name, contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers to get the help you need. Our lawyers serve all of Georgia, including Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and Cobb County, as well as Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, and Atlanta. Call 770-685-6400 for a free case evaluation.