Forgery, in criminal law, fraudulent altering of a written document or seal, with the intent of injuring the interests of another person or of fraudulently obtaining governmental revenue.
Forgeries must be executed with such skill or in such circumstances as to be mistaken for a genuine document by the average person. They do not necessarily try to imitate the handwriting of another or the form of the simulated document. If the intention was to deceive, and the circumstances were such as to render deception possible, then the crime has been committed; consequently, forgery applies to signing the name of a person who cannot write. Any material alteration, however slight, such as the unauthorized use of another's signature, is as much a forgery as the transferring of a genuine signature to a document for which it was not intended, or the fabrication of an entire document.
The offense is not limited to the fabrication of writing, but includes the fabrication of printed or engraved instruments, such as railroad and airplane tickets, corporation stock certificates, and bonds. Moreover, the false document must have an apparent legal efficacy. A letter of introduction, although requesting a personal favor for the bearer from the one to whom it is addressed, is not a subject of criminal forgery.
To secure a conviction for forgery it is necessary to prove an intent to defraud, but it is not necessary that the purpose should have been actually effected; it is sufficient to show that the forgery would have proved injurious to another's interests. In the U.S., federal and state statutes define the specific offenses that constitute the crime of forgery.
Counterfeiting, criminal offense of making an imitation of an article with intent to defraud others into accepting it as the genuine item. The term counterfeit is used most frequently to denote imitations of coined money or of the paper currency of a government or a bank, but it is applied also to other cases of fraudulent imitation, such as spurious trademarks, dies or works of art.
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