To the average person, the offense of Forgery probably doesn’t sound like something that occurs on a regular basis. The term “forgery” usually conjures up the image of a shady artist carefully recreating some poor, unsuspecting victim’s signature and then passing themselves off using the victim’s identity. While an act like this most certainly would be forgery, the offense in Texas actually encompasses a broad range of activities and, because of that, it is much more common than most people realize.
The definition of forgery is laid out in Sec. 32.21(b), which states that,
a person commits an offense if he forges a writing with intent to defraud another.
Simple enough, right? Not quite. The simple definition of forgery begs multiple questions. For instance, what is the definition of “forge?” And, what is the definition of “writing?” This is where the net gets bigger.
The legislature defined “forge” in Sec. 32.21(1) to include a wide range of acts. These include altering, making, completing, executing, or authenticating any writing with the intent to defraud in addition to issuing, transferring, registering the transfer of, passing, publishing, or otherwise uttering a writing that is forged. What is a “writing” you ask? Well, the legislature decided to stretch the net even further by defining a writing as a printing or any other method of recording information as well as money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks, symbols of value, right, privilege or identification.
Most forgery cases in Texas deal with the writing or passing of forged checks or fake currency. Occasionally, we see cases involving credit or debit cards charged as forgery (although there is another offense in the code more accurate to charge these types of offenses). While we see quite a few of these more common offenses involving checks, I can’t say that we’ve ever seen as case of forgery involving publishing a symbol of privilege with the intent to defraud.
But, as you can see the net is wide and I’m sure someplace, sometime one of those exotic forgery fishes will be caught up in the State’s tangled web.