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Property Offenses

Forgery-Type Offenses

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The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.

The following list is not an exhaustive one. To understand these types of offenses often involves definitions that are quite abstract but understanding them is vital before knowing whether a person is guilty or even covered by the statute under which they have been charged.  That is where an attorney can help. A written instrument is one of those tricky definitions. 


A written instrument is defined as “a token, coin, stamp, seal, badge, trademark, credit card, absentee ballot application, absentee ballot envelope, medical drug prescription form, other evidence or symbol of value, right, privilege or identification, and any paper, document or other written instrument containing written or printed matter or its equivalent.” That might best be summed up as something that has meaning, in the non-money sense of value, or has an actual monetary value on its face. Individual circumstances and facts will make this clearer rather than in an abstract sense here.



The most important element is an intent to defraud. If, with that intent, someone falsely makes, completes, endorses or alters a written instrument, or knowingly utters or possesses such an instrument, they are guilty of a class D crime, a misdemeanor equivalent. Deceiving someone into signing a written instrument also has the same penalty and, while not involving a forgery, is regarded as one under the forgery statute. If there is a certain monetary value involved in an intent to defraud, the penalty can rise to a felony - as it does with prior convictions, whatever the value involved.


If the face value of the written instrument is more than $10,000 then it is a class B offense, a felony equivalent. If the value is between $1,000 and $10,000 it is a class C offense, also a felony equivalent. Having two or more prior convictions for relevant offenses (such as theft) will also make a new charge a potential felony.


Aggravated forgery is charged as a class B felony equivalent if it involves certain types of documents. They are money, stamps, stocks, bonds, a will, or a public record. 


Criminal simulation

This offense covers behavior that can best be described by another word for simulate - imitate, or to pretend that something is true when it isn’t and then passing something off, intending to defraud someone else. Again, bad intent is important.


A person commits a class E offense if, with an intent to defraud (basically using deceit to get a benefit), a person makes or alters any property so that it appears to have an age, rarity, quality, composition, source or authorship that it does not in fact have. A person who knows about property’s true background, but didn’t actually do the making or altering, transfers or possesses property that was - and intended to defraud - is also guilty. Intent is the key and can be difficult to prove.


It’s also a class E crime (a low level misdemeanor equivalent) to have someone else turn in a university course paper or do a university exam for someone else. The same offense, and class, applies to giving a false pedigree for an animal. Again the same applies to altering or removing serial numbers on vehicles, snowmobiles and the like.  Doing that to a firearm is a class C felony equivalent, as is transporting one knowing it has been altered in that way. A conviction would end a person’s ability to have a firearm.


Suppressing a recordable instrument

A person is guilty of if this offense if, with intent to defraud anyone, they falsify, destroy, remove or conceal a will, deed, mortgage, security instrument or other writing for which the law provides public recording. This is a class E offense, a misdemeanor equivalent.

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