You altered a check made payable to your girlfriend, or you used her digital signature to get at her funds. Or maybe you used counterfeit money to pay for an expensive TV. Now you are charged with forgery. What is forgery? What can you do? In Illinois, you commit forgery when, you knowingly with intent to defraud:

(1) make a false document or alter any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or

(2) issue or deliver the knowingly false document; or

(3) possess, with intent to issue or deliver the false document; or

(4) unlawfully use the digital signature of another; or

(5) unlawfully use another’s signature device to create their electronic signature.

To convict you, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted knowingly and that you specifically intended to deceive someone in order to cause financial loss to another or financial gain to yourself. You need not actually defraud or deceive the other person. The court may infer your intent to deceive from all the facts surrounding your transaction

For most offenses, forgery is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Forgery is a Class 4 felony (1 to 4 years) if only one Universal Price Code Label is forged, and a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail) if a coin or academic degree or coin is forged unless the academic degree is explicitly marked “for novelty purposes only.”

If you have been charged with forgery or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Because proving intent is so fact-specific, an attorney can help present your fact situation in its most favorable light. Can the state prove that your use of the digital signature was unlawful or that you knew the money you used was counterfeit?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

Source: People v Johnson.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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