Uttering a forged instrument, even in Okmulgee, is one of the lesser known crimes. Yet most jurisdictions have enacted laws to prohibit the crime.
Uttering a forged instrument occurs when a person knowingly publishes (utters) a forged or altered document, writing, or other financial instrument, thus placing it into general circulation. It is “uttered” with the intent to misrepresent it as true.
Uttering a Forged Instrument Defined
In Oklahoma, uttering a forged instrument is defined as the selling, exchanging or delivering of a document, financial instrument, coin or the like — knowing that it is forged — in exchange for money, goods, services or any other type of consideration. Likewise, the person who receives it knowing that it is a forgery is said to have “uttered” a forgery.
This is forgery in the third degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1577
Like all crimes in Oklahoma, uttering a forged instrument has elements that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If any element goes unproven, the defendant is not convicted for the crime.
Here are the elements:
- the act was intentional;
- there was a sale, exchange or delivery or receipt of the document;
- or consideration;
- the instrument was false; and
- the defendant knew it was false. OUJI-CR 5-69.
Ways This Crime Occurs
There are many ways in which forgery occurs in Oklahoma. It usually involves the making, altering or signing of a document — such as a check — with the intent to commit fraud. The crime also occurs when a person presents a forged document or instrument such as a will, promissory note or the like with the intent to defraud.
Defenses to Uttering a Forged Instrument
Knowledge of the forgery is an integral part of this crime. One of the most common defenses to this crime is the lack of knowledge.
Other defenses may include the lack of intentionality. The act of “uttering” must be intentional and must be made with knowledge of the forgery. This requires the prosecution prove what the defendant was thinking. This is a difficult threshold for the prosecution to meet.
Any facts that tend to show that the defendant acted without knowledge or intent are often critical to building a strong defense.
Forgery of Other Oklahoma Instruments
Here are other some ways in which forgery occurs and the Oklahoma law that prohibits the crime:
- Forgery of wills, trusts and deeds is forgery in the first degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1561
- Forgery of stock certificates or securities is forgery in the first degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1562
- Forgery of a record of conveyance including wills, trusts and property titles, is forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1572
- Forgery of engraving plates used for promissory notes, drafts, checks and other financial instruments is forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1575
- Coin forgery is counterfeiting and is chargeable as forgery in the second degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1583
A conviction in the first degree is punishable by a prison term of from seven t0 10 years. A second-degree conviction means a prison term of up to seven years. Both of these convictions are felonies in Oklahoma.
A conviction in the third degree, such as that for uttering a forged instrument, is punishable by both jail and a fine — up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000 if the forgery involves less than $1,000, and jail up to seven years if the forgery involves $1,000 or more. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1621
Forgery penalties are stiff. If you are charged, you will need the help of an experienced Okmulgee criminal defense attorney to help build a strong defense. Get the help you need, today.
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