In Illinois and other jurisdictions across the United States, it is illegal to forge or otherwise alter valid documents for unlawful purposes. As most of the U.S. government system operates on the validity of certain information, it is vital to preserve authenticity. Consequently, there are strict penalties for forging or altering pieces of identification or other official documents.
What is the Definition of Forgery in Illinois?
The definition of forgery under Illinois law appears in 720 ILCS 5/17-3. In larger terms, forgery involves the knowing and intentional falsification of documents. Specifically, a person commits forgery under Illinois law if he or she knowingly:
- Creates a false document that is capable of defrauding another person;
- Alters an otherwise valid document to defraud another person; or
- Possesses or delivers such a false document to another person with the intention to defraud.
Under 720 ILCS 5/17-3, there is also a provision that concerns digital signatures in the modern age. Essentially, it is a crime to repurpose or adjust digital signatures with the intent to defraud.
What are the Penalties for Forgery in Illinois?
The penalties for forgery in Illinois also appear in 720 ILCS 5/17-3. Though the criminal charges and corresponding penalties change based on the circumstances of the offense.
In most cases, forgery is a Class 3 felony in Illinois. The typical penalties for a Class 3 felony in Illinois include two to five years in prison, $25,000 in fines, and 30 months of probation, conditional discharge, or court supervision.
On the other hand, forgery is a Class 4 felony in Illinois when the offender forges a Universal Price Code Label. The typical penalties for a Class 3 felony in Illinois include one to three years in prison, $25,000 in fines and 30 months of probation, conditional discharge, or court supervision.
Additionally, forgery is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois when the offender forges an academic degree or a coin. The typical penalties for a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois include 364 days in jail, $2,500 in fines and 24 months of probation, conditional discharge, or court supervision.
At this juncture, it is vital to note an important exception. The Illinois forgery laws do not apply to certain academic diplomas. Specifically, if an academic diploma states, “for novelty purposes only,” that degree is immune from Illinois forgery laws.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Sidney Pearce)