In Georgia, the offense of forgery is broken down into four different degrees, depending on the type of document forged and whether that document was delivered, presented, or used. Third and fourth degree forgery deal solely with checks, while first and second degree forgery are associated with all other documents.
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1, a person commits the offense of forgery in the first degree when the accused has acted with the intent to defraud and he/she knowingly possesses any writing, other than a check, in a fictitious name or where the writing has been altered. Such writing by the accused must be without the authority of the authorized owner of the document.
Furthermore, to be convicted of first degree forgery, the fraudulent document must have been delivered, used, or presented. Alternatively, second degree forgery still requires that the accused had the intent to defraud the authorized owner of the document in the same way as first degree forgery, however, one key difference between the two is that to be convicted of second degree forgery, the fraudulent document must not have been delivered, used, or presented.
Lastly, third and fourth degree forgery deal solely with checks. A person commits the offense of forgery in the third degree when one of the following occurs:
- The accused alters or defrauds the authorized owner of a check in the amount of $1,500 or more; OR
- He/she possesses 10 or more checks written, without a specified amount, in a fictitious name or in some other way in which alters the check with the intent to defraud.
Fourth degree forgery is the same as the offense of forgery in the third degree except that the check amount is either less than $1,500 or he/she possesses less than 10 checks written in a fictitious name or in some other way alters the check to defraud the authorized owner.
Forgery is characterized as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on what degree the State of Georgia charged the offense as. First, second, and third degree forgery are all felonies, while fourth degree forgery is classified as a misdemeanor.
An accused convicted of first degree forgery could be sentenced anywhere between 1-15 years in prison. Alternatively, for a conviction of second degree forgery, the punishment ranges between 1-5 years in prison. The same is also true for third degree forgery. Lastly, a conviction of forgery in the fourth degree shall be classified as a misdemeanor and the accused, if convicted, could be sentenced anywhere between 1-5 years in jail.
Due to the severity of the punishment for forgery convictions, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for each degree of forgery, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for forgery, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.