Uttering a forged instrument occurs when a person knowingly publishes (utters) a forged or altered document, writing, or other financial instruments, thus placing it into general circulation. It is “uttered” with the intent to misrepresent it as true.
Think of the crime as a way of putting a forged document, financial instrument, or coin into circulation. If you knowing place a forged instrument into circulation with the intent to misrepresent it as true, you could be convicted of a felony.
Uttering a Forged Instrument Defined
The crime of uttering a forged instrument is codified in the Oklahoma Statutes. Every person who, with knowledge and intent to defraud, utters or publishes as true any forged, altered or counterfeited instrument or gold or silver coin, which has been previously declared to be punishable may be found guilty of the crime of uttering a forged instrument. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1592
Penalties for Uttering a Forgery
Punishments depend on the value of the item or instrument put into circulation.
- If the value of the instrument is less than $1,000, the crime is treated as misdemeanor forgery punishable by up to a year in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- If the value is $1,000 or more but less than $2,500, the crime is treated as felony forgery punishable by a prison term of up to two years or a county jail term of up to a year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- If the value is $2,500 or more but less than $15,000, the crime is treated as felony forgery punishable a prison term of up to five years or up to a year in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- If the value is $15,000 or more, the crime is again treated as felony forgery punishable by a prison term of up to eight years, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Values May Be Aggregated
The law allows the prosecution to add together the values into one offense when they are the result of a plan, scheme, or mechanism which results in the taking or diverting of money or property on a recurring basis.
This continuing course of conduct is the basis for allowing such aggregation. When amounts are aggregated, it makes it much more likely that if convicted, the defendant will spend a substantial period of time in prison.
Finally, the prosecution is able to prove intent by looking at acts which either form an integral part of the first taking which facilitates subsequent takings, or acts which are taken in the preparation of several takings which facilitate subsequent takings. This makes intent much easier to prove.
Defenses to Uttering a Forged Instrument
The act of putting the instrument into circulation must be both knowing and done with the intent to misrepresent. Any facts that tend to show that the defendant acted without knowledge or intent are often critical to building a strong defense.
Forgery penalties are stiff. If you are charged, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help build a strong defense. Get the help you need today.
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