Definition of Forgery
A person is guilty of forgery if, with purpose to defraud anyone, or with knowledge that the person is facilitating a fraud to be perpetrated by anyone, the person:
(a)alters any writing of another without his authority or utters the altered writing; or
(b)makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues, transfers, publishes, or utters any writing so that the writing or the making, completion, execution, authentication, issuance, transference, publication, or utterance:
(i)purports to be the act of another, whether the person is existent or nonexistent;
(ii)purports to be an act on behalf of another party with the authority of that other party; or
(iii)purports to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when an original did not exist.
Required State of Mind
In order to convict a person of forgery, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant acted either knowingly or with a purpose to perpetuate a fraud. A person engages in conduct purposefully, when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result. A person acts knowingly, when he/she is aware of the nature of his conduct or the existing circumstances. A person acts knowingly when he is aware that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result
Defenses to Forgery Cases
The most effective defense to a forgery case is to establish that the defendant lacked the intent to defraud anyone or did not know that a fraud was being perpetuated.
This usually presents itself in situations of possession of stolen checks. It is an effective defense to claim that the defendant did not know the check was stolen, or received the check as part of payment for legitimate services (rent, utilities, sale of personal items, etc) and were also a victim of the forgery, rather than a perpetrator of it.
It is not a defense to a charge of forgery if an actor signs his own name to the writing if the actor does not have authority to make, complete, execute, authenticate, issue, transfer, publish, or utter the writing on behalf of the party for whom the actor purports to act.
Forgery is a third degree felony, which is punishable by a prison sentence of 0-5 years in the Utah State Penitentiary and a fine of $5,000.
A "writing", as referenced in the statute, includes printing, electronic storage or transmission, or any other method of recording valuable information including forms such as:
(i)checks, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks, money, and any other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification;
(ii)a security, revenue stamp, or any other instrument or writing issued by a government or any agency; or
(iii)a check, an issue of stocks, bonds, or any other instrument or writing representing an interest in or claim against property, or a pecuniary interest in or claim against any person or enterprise.