Forgery & Falsifying Notarized Documents Defense Lawyers in Florida
How to Beat a Forgery Charge in the State of Florida
When it is reported that a document was forged and that the forgery was committed with the intent to injure or defraud another person, law enforcement officers and prosecutors take an aggressive stance when investigating and prosecuting these crimes. Under Florida Statute § 831.01, forgery is classified as a third-degree felony.
Under Florida Statute § 831.01 - Whomever falsely manufactures, alters, makes, forges or counterfeits a public record, or a certificate, attestation or return of any register of a court or clerk, notary public, public register, town clerk or any public officer, in relation to a matter wherein such attestation, certificate, or return could be received as a legal proof; or a charter, will, deed, bond, testament, or writing obligatory, policy of insurance, letter of attorney, bill of exchange or promissory note, bill of lading, or an order, acquittance, or discharge for property or money, or promissory note for the payment of money or an acceptance of a bill of exchange, or any sort of receipt for goods, money, or other property, or any pass, passage ticket, or other evidence of transportation issued by a common carrier, with the intent to defraud or injure any other person, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree.
The Most Commonly Forged Documents
Investigations of forged documents in Florida commonly include:
- Money orders
- personal checks;
- travelers’ checks
- commercial checks
- U.S. Treasury check;
- State of Florida Treasury check;
- Stock certificates
- titles to property; and
- credit card invoices.
In Florida, forgery constitutes a third-degree felony, which carries with it a potential prison sentence of up to five years as well as a $5,000 fine.
Florida Notary Law and the Civil and Criminal Penalties
Every state, including Florida, has their own laws that a notary must adhere to at all times. These requirements are governed by Chapter 117 of the Florida State Statutes. Under Florida Statute Section 117.107(9), “[a] notary public may not notarize the signature on a document if the person whose signature is being notarized is not in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized.” The signor must be present at the time he or she signs the notarized document. If this section of the Florida statutes is violated, the individual may face a civil penalty of up to $5,000. If an individual has an intent to defraud, then they may face a third-degree felony charge.
A common criminal offense with regard to notarized documents is when a person falsely takes or receives an acknowledgement of signature on a written document. Under Section 117.105, “a notary who fraudulently or falsely takes an acknowledgment of an instrument as a notary or who falsely or fraudulently makes a certificate as a notary or who falsely takes or receives an acknowledgment of the signature on a written instrument” may be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries with it a term of imprisonment for up to five years and a monetary fine of $5,000.
It is also a felony in the third-degree for a person to notarize a document in his or her own name or to use or obtain a notary public commission in a name other than his or her legal name.
Specifically, a notary has a legal obligation to confirm the identification of the individuals whose signatures are to be notarized. Under Florida Statute Section 117.05(5), “[a] notary public may not notarize a signature on a document unless he or she personally knows, or has satisfactory evidence, that the person whose signature is to be notarized is the individual who is described in and who is executing the instrument. A notary public shall certify in the certificate of acknowledgment or jurat the type of identification, either based on personal knowledge or other form of identification, upon which the notary public is relying.” Under Section 117.05(3)(d), “any person who unlawfully possesses a notary public official seal or any papers or copies relating to notarial acts is guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor.”
If a notary does not comply with the applicable Florida law governing notaries, they may face severe consequences, including serious criminal charges. That is why it is vitally important for a notary to abide by all of the applicable laws in order to prevent fraud by verifying the authenticity of a person's signature. Notary fraud is more prevalent than people think, so it is critical that people be aware of the potential for fraud and what to do when working with a notary.
Investigation by the Postal Inspector’s Office
If there is an allegation that a U.S. or Florida Treasury check was forged, then local law enforcement will alert the Postal Inspector’s Office. In these cases, inspectors with the U.S. Post Office will jointly investigate the matter. A forgery of a U.S. or Florida Treasury check can be heard in either a criminal or civil court. The state and federal investigators have concurrent jurisdiction in several of these matters.
Speak With Musca Law Today When Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!
Our firm’s criminal defense attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and our law firm boasts a perfect 10.0 Superb Avvo rating. We understand how to fight for your legal rights and we work hard to protect your future. The forgery defense attorneys at Musca Law are experienced, skilled, tenacious, and relentless when we defend our clients. Our experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys work hard to exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against our client and work hard to create the optimal defense strategy for our clients. Our record of success both inside and outside of the courtroom speaks for itself.
For your free case review, call Musca Law (888) 484-5057 today.