In Florida, you may be convicted of a forgery if you make, alter or issue an instrument while you have the intent to injure or to defraud another person or entity. The forgery statute outlines a number of different types of documents and instruments that are covered by the law, including deeds, bonds, checks, promissory notes, wills, public records and others. If you are found guilty of committing a forgery, you may face harsh penalties. It is important for you to seek legal representation from one of the experienced criminal defense lawyers at the Musca Law Firm if you currently are facing forgery charges.
Penalties for forgery convictions in Florida
Forgery offenses are third-degree felonies in Florida and the various types of covered instruments are found in Florida Statute § 831.01. Under Florida Statutes § 775.082, a conviction for a felony of the third degree in Florida may result in a prison sentence of up to five years. You may also face a fine in addition to a prison sentence of up to $5,000 under Florida Statutes § 775.083.
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Potential sentence enhancements for habitual felony offenders
In Florida, if you are found to be a habitual felony offender, the sentence that you might receive for a forgery conviction may be much harsher. Under Florida Statutes § 775.084, a habitual felony offender who is convicted of a third-degree felony may face a maximum prison term of five to 10 years in prison.
In order to sentence you as a habitual felony offender, the court must first make several findings. You must have previously been convicted of at least two or more felonies in Florida or in another state. Your current forgery offense must have been committed within five years after a previous felony conviction, while you were under supervised felony release, five years after you were released from prison, or while you were incarcerated. For your forgery offense to qualify you as a habitual felony offender, one of your two prior felony convictions must not have been for possessing or buying a controlled substance.
If you are found to qualify as a habitual felony offender for your current forgery case, the prosecution will have to serve you with a notice that you are facing an enhanced penalty. If you are properly served with the notice, the judge may sentence you to 10 years in prison instead of a maximum of five. However, the judge will have discretion and does not have to impose the maximum sentence.
The importance of getting experienced legal help from the Musca Law Firm
Whether you have prior felony convictions or not, being charged with felony forgery can alter your life. It is important for you to seek prompt legal representation from an experienced lawyer as soon after you have been charged as possible. Our lawyers at the Musca Law Firm may work to secure the best possible outcome for you in your case. Contact us today to learn more about how we might be able to help to defend you against allegations of forgery.