Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Forgery Charges in Illinois

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Illinois Criminal Law » Forgery Charges in Illinois

Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/17-3) defines forgery as the crime committed when a person does any of the following actions:


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(1) makes a false document or alters any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or
(2) issues or delivers such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or
(3) possesses, with intent to issue or deliver, any such document knowing it to have been thus made or altered; or
(4) unlawfully uses the digital signature, as defined in the Financial Institutions Electronic Documents and Digital Signature Act, of another; or
(5) unlawfully uses the signature device of another to create an electronic signature of that other person, as those terms are defined in the Electronic Commerce Security Act.

Illinois law provides a further definition, by providing that

“A document apparently capable of defrauding another includes, but is not limited to, one by which any right, obligation or power with reference to any person or property may be created, transferred, altered or terminated. A document includes any record or electronic record as those terms are defined in the Electronic Commerce Security Act. For purposes of this Section, a document also includes a Universal Price Code Label or coin.”


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“For purposes of this Section, “false document” or “document that is false” includes, but is not limited to, a document whose contents are false in some material way, or that purports to have been made by another or at another time, or with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority.”

Forgery charges in Illinois are normally Class 3 felonies, which carry a prison term of up to 5 years.  However, the forgery of a single Universal Price Code (UPC barcode) is a Class 4 felony, which carries up to 3 years in prison.  If the item forged is an academic degree or coin, then the charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a county jail sentence of up to 1 year.

Often, a Illinois forgery charge will be accompanied by other charges, such as Theft or Burglary.  Regardless of the specific class of charge, it is clear that forgery is a serious crime in Illinois and for that reason a person accused of forgery should promptly retain counsel to address the situation in the most favorable manner possible.


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