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A Conviction For Fraud and Forgery Can Cost You For Decades to Come
From big box retail stores to vulnerable seniors, from large banks to small businesses, criminal fraud and forgery cost victims billions of dollars every year. This is such a costly and pervasive crime that both private companies and law enforcement agencies alike have whole departments dedicated to preventing fraud and catching and prosecuting those who engage in this distinct form of theft. Given these efforts, you should not be surprised to learn that Colorado prosecutors and Colorado law treat criminal fraud and forgery charges with the utmost seriousness. If you face such charges, the consequences of a conviction can be life-changing and lifelong. Not only do you face costly fines, restitution, and the potential of jail time, but you will also have the burden of a criminal record that essentially tells potential employers and others that you are dishonest and untrustworthy. Those labels can be challenging to overcome. That is why you should take criminal fraud and forgery charges just as seriously as El Paso County prosecutors do. Hiring an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged is the most important thing you can do to give you the best chance at avoiding the harsh penalties imposed for these crimes.
What You’ll Learn in This Post:
- Criminal fraud and forgery cost victims billions of dollars annually, so unsurprisingly, Colorado prosecutors and Colorado law treat criminal fraud and forgery charges with the utmost seriousness.
- Fraud is the act of lying, making false representations, or otherwise deceiving someone into giving up their property or depriving them of property rightfully theirs for the deceiver’s own financial gain. The ways people can commit fraud are almost as limitless as the imagination.
- One type of fraud is forgery, which is the act of creating or altering written documents with the intent to deceive, as well as possessing forged documents intending to trick others.
- All fraud and forgery convictions come with hefty penalties – including time in jail and a criminal record that may stand in the way of employment and other opportunities for decades.
There Are Many Types of Colorado Fraud Crimes
In its simplest definition, criminal fraud is the act of lying, making false representations, or otherwise deceiving someone into giving up their property or depriving them of property rightfully theirs for the deceiver’s own financial gain. The ways people can commit fraud are almost as limitless as the imagination and evolve alongside changes in technology, business, and society. This crime can involve simple lies, complex, multi-part schemes, or increasingly sophisticated technology. Examples of criminal fraud include:
- Credit card fraud, including the use of “skimming” devices
- Identity theft or impersonation
- Check fraud
- Investment fraud, including pyramid or “Ponzi” schemes, oil and gas investment schemes, “fix-and-flip” housing scams and more
- Bank fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Social Security fraud
- Consumer fraud
- Tax fraud
Both Colorado and federal law contain multiple statutes that address the wide range of criminal fraud and forgery activities that deprive individuals and corporations of billions of dollars every single year. Each statute sets forth an individual schedule of punishments, but all of them can involve jail time, hefty fines, payment of restitution to victims, and probation. For example, identity theft in Colorado is a class 4 felony, resulting in up to 12 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. In addition to these serious criminal penalties, fraud victims can also file civil lawsuits seeking to recoup their losses from those who have taken their money or property.
One of the most common forms of fraud in Colorado is check fraud. Colorado Revised Statutes 18-5-205 provides a person commits fraud by check if, knowing they have insufficient funds, the account the check is being drawn on is closed, or no such account exists, writes a check for the payment of services, rent, money, property, wages, salary, commissions, labor, or other thing of value with the intent to defraud. Whether El Paso County prosecutors will charge the passing of the fraudulent check as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the check amount. Any check for more than one thousand dollars is a class six felony, carrying up a fine of up to $100,000 and 18 months in behind bars. Related Reading: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference?
One form of check fraud involves forgery, which is the act of creating or altering written documents with the intent to deceive, as well as possessing forged documents with the intent to trick others. As outlined in Colorado Revised Statutes 18-5-102, forgery can involve all kinds of documents, including:
- money, stamps, or government securities
- stocks or bonds
- deeds, wills, contracts, or other legal documents
- public records
- tokens, transfers, or tickets used in place of money
- lottery tickets, or
- identification documents
Additionally, simply possessing any tool or equipment specifically designed to make counterfeit or forged documents or any tool or equipment that the defendant intends to use to make forgeries or knows will be used to make forgeries can result in criminal fraud and forgery charges. The penalties upon a conviction for forgery largely depend on the type of document involved. Forgery involving cash, stock certificates, or legal documents is a class five felony and, upon conviction, can result in up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The penalties can be up to six years behind bars if the court finds particularly aggravated circumstances. Forgery involving most other documents is usually classified as a class 2 misdemeanor, resulting in up to 120 days in jail and a fine of up to $750. Possessing a device that creates forged documents, like fake driver’s licenses or checks, is a class 6 felony that can lead to up to 1 ½ years behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000.
A Conviction For Criminal Fraud and Forgery Comes With a Lifetime Of Consequences
Jail time and fines aren’t the only hardships you’ll face upon conviction for criminal fraud and forgery. Since fraud and forgery are crimes that involve dishonesty and deceit, they can be particularly damaging if El Paso County prosecutors are successful in obtaining your conviction. All potential employers will cast a suspicious eye on you if you carry a criminal fraud or forgery conviction on your record, and employers will likely disqualify you from any job opportunities that involve sensitive information, finances, or security clearances.
Criminal Fraud and Forgery Charges Need an Aggressive Defense Strategy
Whether your circumstances led you to make a regrettable decision or you have been wrongfully accused, you have rights and defenses that an experienced Colorado Springs criminal fraud and forgery defense attorney can assert on your behalf. And for the best possible outcome, only place your freedom in the hands of criminal defense attorneys who were former prosecutors themselves. The skilled and aggressive Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys at James Newby Law have the experience and tenacity to fight for your freedom. Arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation today.