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Penalties and defenses for forgery and identity theft

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If a person is accused of forgery or identity theft, he or she can face serious penalties. Forgery occurs when a person intends to defraud another person. He or she makes or uses a document and represents that it was signed or made by another person. Identity theft occurs where a person uses the identifying information of another person for financial gain.

Forgery and identity theft

Forgery may include signing a check fraudulently, making a false entry in an account book, writing a fake letter of credit or promissory note. It can also extend to writing a false drug prescription, signing a deed or title, a power of attorney or last will and testament falsely.

With identity theft, there is a wide-range of information that a person can use for financial gain. It could include a person’s name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number and other identifying details. It may be used to open a credit card, file taxes or purchase property, for example.

Penalties and potential defenses

In Maryland, if a person is found guilty of forgery of certain documents, he or she can face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If he or she is in possession of counterfeit documents with an intent to defraud, he or she can face up to three years in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. Identity theft carries a penalty of five years in prison, a $25,000 fine in Maryland and restitution is required.

If a person is accused of forgery and identity theft, there are potential defenses he or she may want to consider. If the accused person believed that he or she had permission or authority to sign the document or use the personal information, that may be a defense. He or she may have a defense to forgery if there was no intent to defraud or to identity theft if he or she did not use information obtained.

An experienced attorney can review the forgery or identity theft charge and provide advice.