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Forgery is a crime with severe consequences.

If convicted, you could lose your voting rights. Your right to own a gun. Even your right to hold certain professional licenses.

And if jail and hefty fines weren’t enough, after you get out, you may have difficulty renting a house or an apartment and finding a job.

Bottom line: if convicted of forgery, your life could be changed forever.

Seeking the services of an attorney is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re facing forgery charges. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will fight to protect your rights and may be able to get your charges reduced, or maybe even get your case dismissed.

Learning about the basics of forgery charges and penalties in South Carolina can help you understand what you’re up against so you can better prepare for your case.

Forgery: the charge

The crime of forgery boils down to making or getting someone else to create fake documents. Many times, forged documents are financial or deal with real estate, but other types of materials can be forged as well.

SC Code of Law 16-13-10 explains the crime in somewhat complicated language. Simply stated, forgery involves changing or faking checks or other documents to get money or property, or to present false information about a person’s age, address or additional personal details.

The law describes forgery as several actions that apply to written documents and plats of land, including the following:

  • Falsely making, forging or counterfeiting documents
  • Asking for, purchasing or getting ahold of a forged document
  • Helping to make counterfeit or falsified documents
  • Changing parts of documents or maps to falsify their contents
  • Creating or helping to develop forgeries with the intention of cheating someone out of money or property

However, forgery must be an intentional act—it doesn’t happen by accident. For example, if you thought you had permission to alter or sign a document, even if you didn’t have permission, that’s not forgery.

On the other hand, if you faked a document on purpose and you get caught and convicted, you could be facing some pretty harsh penalties. Let’s take a look at the types of documents commonly involved in forgery cases in SC.

Forgery: examples

Forgery is a reasonably broad crime covering many types of documents, such as:

Financial documents

  • Bonds
  • Checks
  • Coins
  • Paper money
  • Promissory notes
  • Receipts
  • Securities
  • Stocks

Real estate documents

  • Deeds
  • Maps
  • Plats

Education documents

  • Diplomas
  • GEDs
  • Transcripts

Other legal documents

  • Contracts
  • Wills

Some of the most common forgery crimes in South Carolina include:

  • Generating a fake real estate document, like the deed to a house or piece of land
  • Changing a financial document, like a promissory note
  • Using a forged document to transfer or receive money or property

Forgery: the penalties

The punishments for a forgery conviction depend on how much money was involved in the crime. As you might expect, forgery crimes involving more money result in harsher penalties.

The state’s sentencing guidelines for forgery convictions are as follows:

Forgery with a value of $10,000 or more

ChargeFineJail TimeNotes
FelonyAmount at the court’s discretionUp to 10 yearsBoth fine and jail time possible

Forgery with a value of less than $10,000

ChargeFineJail TimeNotes
FelonyAmount at the court’s discretionUp to 5 yearsBoth fine and jail time possible

Forgery that doesn’t involve a dollar amount

ChargeFineJail TimeNotes
MisdemeanorAmount at the court’s discretionUp to 3 yearsBoth fine and jail time possible

Furthermore, misdemeanor forgery charges are handled by Magistrate Court or Municipal Court, while felony-level forgery crimes are tried by the Circuit Court.

Fight for your freedom with a lawyer’s help.

Luckily, you don’t have to fight your forgery charges alone. The experienced legal team at Kent Collins Law has helped others fight this battle, and we can help you, too.

Set up a free, in-person consultation to get some answers about your case. Complete this form or call our office at 803-808-0905.

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