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Arizona’s White Collar Forgery Conviction Means Prison

by Aaron M. Black • October 20, 2022

Forgery is a white collar crime, which is defined as a nonviolent act for concealing or deceiving someone or a business for personal gain. Even without an act of violence, forgery is a felony in AZ, and a conviction means serious time in prison and hefty fines reaching into six figures.

Check Forgery is a Felony in Arizona

Forgery can be a state or federal crime depending upon jurisdiction and the nature of the offense. Authorities launching an investigation of a forgery complaint first must have developed extensive evidence and information to make an arrest.

To begin an investigation, law enforcement often uses a detailed questionnaire to be completed by the alleged victim, be it a person or a business. For example, Phoenix police has its “Forgery Report Packet.”

Forgery crimes have been increasing through today’s abuses using the internet and technological advancements.

Common forgery examples include replicating someone else’s signature on a check, changing a medical prescription by signing a physician’s name on a prescription, faking mortgage documents and government identification forms, submitting a credit card application using a victim’s name and even using a well-known artist’s name on a faked painting.

Document Forgery

Arizona’s forgery law

Under Arizona Revised Statute §13-2002 forgery is committed by acting with intent to defraud by falsely altering a written document, knowingly possessing a forged document, or offering and presenting a forged document whether it is accepted by the receiver or not, or one that contains false information.

Forgery involves putting into writing a false or altered document, called in the law a “written instrument” with the intent to defraud. A forgery defendant must have possessed or offered to someone a forged or a fake document and did know it to be a forgery.

Possessing five or more forgery instruments infers that an intent to defraud did exist. This law is a Class 4 felony, but the charge is elevated to a more serious Class 3 felony if the forgery is used to buy, lease, or rent a place that serves as a drop house used for smuggling under Arizona Revised Statute §13-2319.

“Devices” used for committing forgery

A “device” is how a forgery is committed under Arizona Revised Statute §13-2003. If a person who possesses forgery instruments intending to use them to commit forgery or permitting someone else to use them to commit forgery is a Class 5 felony. This charge may be reduced to a less serious Class 6 felony in some situations.

The Class 6 felony, the least serious in the felony range, is for possessing a forgery device, which is any apparatus, equipment, computer software, and other articles or materials that are specifically designed or adapted for use to forge written documents.

Someone who makes paper money is committing a federal counterfeit crime.

Forgery conviction sentences

Arizona’s sentencing guidelines are arranged into mitigated, minimum, presumptive, maximum and aggravated offenses. Each carries a prison sentence, growing harsher as the seriousness of the felony increases, and long terms of life-restricting probation after incarceration ends.
  • A Class 3 felony carries a mitigated term of 2 years; or a minimum of 4 years, a maximum of 10 years and the aggravated range is 8.75 years.
  • A Class 4 felony punishment is 1 year for mitigated factors, or a minimum of 1.5 years and a maximum of 3.75 years. Aggravated boosts the sentence to 3.75 years.
  • A Class 5 felony is a mitigated term of 6 months, or a minimum of .75 years and a maximum of two years.
  • The Class 6 felony is .33 years for mitigated, or a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 1.5 years in prison.
A second forgery conviction increases the length of a prison sentence.

Arizona law also allows fines and surcharges that can reach into six figures.

A forgery conviction in AZ is life-changing

A felony conviction remains on the public record for 99 years for potential employers, landlords and anyone to see.

Convicted felons after serving time in prison do not have the right to buy, own or possess a firearm. If that is violated, the defendant is returned to prison. Felons cannot vote in elections, serve on a jury or join the military. Landlords can refuse to rent to felons an apartment in order to protect their tenants.

Financially, employers will see the felony conviction on background checks and can refuse to offer employment. Felons who hold professional licenses, such as accountants, money managers, real estate agents, financial advisors, nurses, and many other professions, will have their licenses revoked ending a once promising career.

A felony conviction can prevent the felon on probation from getting food stamps or social security benefits.

Defending a forgery charge in Phoenix or Scottsdale AZ

The prosecution has a high bar to win a conviction. The state must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The defense needs to establish doubt in the minds of jurors or a judge.
To be innocent of forgery, the defendant must prove that he or she had no intent to commit forgery. Without intent there is no case.

A strong defense begins at the moment of an arrest, upon which the arresting investigator is required by law to tell a suspect of the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to prevent self-incrimination and the Constitutional right to have an attorney during interrogation under the Sixth Amendment. These are known as Miranda rights which are the result of an Arizona case some 60 years ago.

The Fourth Amendment protects a forgery suspect’s right to privacy and prevents law enforcement and the prosecution from unreasonable search of a defendant’s property or person and seizure of evidence. Should authorities violate the Fourth Amendment, any evidence they have collected is not admissible.

If law enforcement does not advise a suspect of these crucial rights, the charge can be dismissed under constitutional grounds.

Investigators have no interest in siding with a defendant’s version of the event, no matter how much they say they are open minded or want to help. They are not. They are interested only in taking a strong case built on the evidence they have developed to the prosecution to win a conviction.

Investigators cannot by law coerce a forgery suspect into making a confession.

Entrapment is a defense. This involves law enforcement planting evidence on a person or the person’s property. They are tricking you into committing a crime and the charge will be dismissed.

A suspect can be falsely accused by someone to protect themselves from prosecution.

Aaron M. Black Law for Forgery Defense

Should you, a loved one or a friend be charged or are under investigation for forgery, it is imperative that you be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney such as myself to ensure that your civil rights are protected.

I will conduct an independent investigation of the prosecution’s evidence looking for faults and omissions and the performance record of the investigators in the state’s case.
During my extensive career as an aggressive criminal defense attorney, I know that good people can find themselves in legal trouble. That is why I work hard to ensure they have the best defense possible and support and encouragement during the process.

At Aaron M. Black Law, clients will receive personalized legal services and will always be talking directly to me, never an assistant, at every stage of the case.

Begin your forgery defense immediately by calling 480-729-1683 at any time on any day, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court on at trial. Or use the online contact form on my website.

I defend forgery charges throughout Arizona, including Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.


About the Author

Aaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes and white-collar crime.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

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