The crime of forgery is something that can affect people from many walks of life because people may commit forgery in many different ways. It can help to understand the basics of forgery, not only so that you may be on alert for it, but so that you know how the law will likely determine whether someone is actually guilty of forgery.
FindLaw explains the different ways people commit forgery. Even though forgery takes many forms, the common factor of virtually every case of forgery is that the forger is copying something that is authentic. Also, in many cases of forgery, the person is using a forged document for some sort of personal gain.
What forgery entails
You might imagine forgery is when a person copies the signature of somebody else. While this is true, you could also commit forgery by creating a whole document that imitates an authentic document created a person, company or institution. Forgers tend to imitate documents like contracts and legal certificates. They can also forge an electronic document and submit it through email or an internet portal. The other party may not detect the forgery until it is too late.
Intention to deceive
The simple fact that you have replicated something does not mean the law will find you guilty of forgery. Many jurisdictions require proof that a person forged something with the intent to deceive another party or to commit some kind of fraud or larceny. For instance, the state is more likely to find you guilty of forgery if you try to use a forged document to defraud the government or a private party of money or a service than if you merely possess a forged document.
Crimes of forgery
People who engage in forgery often receive a charge for a specific crime. If you were to forge a document or signature with the intent to defraud, the government would very likely charge you with fraud. A prosecutor might also charge you with identity theft if you imitate the signature of a person on a check or another document. If you forge currency, the state could levy charges of counterfeiting.