The penalties for a forged money order in Pennsylvania include up to ten (10) years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 per 18 Pa.C.S. § 4101. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania classifies money order offenses as 2nd-degree felonies, which are more serious than misdemeanors. However, lesser forgery offenses could be classified as misdemeanors under this statute.
A second-degree felony of this nature can also result in jury duty disqualification per 42 Pa.C.S. § 4502(a)(3). PrisonPolicy.org data shows that people with felony convictions on their record experience high unemployment rates at 27 percent, meaning that it could be much more challenging to find employment upon release from prison. There is also a social and professional stigma surrounding felonies, which could negatively impact your life as well.
IN THIS ARTICLE
A Philadelphia white-collar crimes lawyer addresses the following questions and issues:
- How Do Pennsylvania Laws Define Forgery?
- Can You Get Out of Forgery Charges?
- What to Do When Facing Pennsylvania Money Order Forgery Penalties
First, it is vital to understand how Pennsylvania laws define forgery and which statute addresses it. This information will help accused individuals or their loved ones gain a sense of what the charges involve.
How Do Pennsylvania Laws Define Forgery?
Pennsylvania laws define forgery as an act that knowingly intends to harm someone and alters legally protected writings per 18 Pa.C.S. 4101.
Protected writings include electronic and physical mediums, such as:
- Credit cards
- Electronic signatures
- Other symbols of right
Although the section does not mention money orders, courts charge individuals under Pennsylvania’s forgery statute as they function the same as cash. You can read the legal text for 18 Pa.C.S. 4101 here.
Federal Forgery Charges on Postal Money Orders
The United States Code imposes a felony conviction and a maximum sentence of up to five (5) years in prison for federal money order forgery offenses per 18 U.S.C. 500. Federal charges are very serious and should be treated by the accused as such; otherwise, federal prosecutors could secure a conviction and send you or your loved one to prison.
Exercise your right to remain silent and seek legal representation as soon as you possibly can. It is critical that these cases are handled properly, as a conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence. The federal government has extensive resources; match their strategy by pulling together your legal resources with private counsel.
Can You Get Out of Money Order Forgery Charges?
Yes, you can get out of money order forgery charges. However, this ideal outcome depends upon the facts and circumstances of your case. A white-collar crimes lawyer in Pennsylvania can examine the evidence, work with experts, and question the prosecutor’s theory as part of a comprehensive strategy.
Examples of defenses to money order forgery charges include:
- Example 1. Intent: Prosecutors must show that you acted with the intent to deceive others.
- Example 2. Knowledge: They must also demonstrate that you knew the money order was forged.
- Example 3. Identity: Finally, the prosecutor should be able to prove that you were the person committing forgery.
If prosecutors cannot prove them, you should not be convicted in the above-referenced examples. Otherwise, you should walk away from the courthouse, free.
Money order forgery cases are complicated but still defensible. Ensure that you work with an aggressive attorney to put up the fight of your life on your behalf.
Related Article: Is Embezzlement a Felony in Pennsylvania?
What to Do When Facing Pennsylvania Money Order Forgery Penalties
The penalties for Pennsylvania money order forgery convictions are far too harsh to bear for the rest of your life without mounting a defense. When facing forgery charges, ensure that you hire a Philadelphia white-collar crimes attorney to devise the strategy and pull together the resources you need. Your next hearing is an opportunity to represent your side of the story, so make sure that you present it in the best possible light based on the facts.
Below, we’ve outlined a few other considerations to make when facing these types of charges:
Remember: An Arrest Is NOT a Conviction
Arrests do not automatically result in criminal convictions. While an arrest is a frightening and humiliating experience, the United States Constitution guarantees you specific rights. There are many legal defenses that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can assert on your behalf with intimate knowledge of the local and state court system.
Legal Representation to Present Your Case Favorably
Prosecutors have one goal in mind: get a conviction. If you do not have legal representation in your corner, you may not have enough evidence to get your charges dropped or reduced. Your PA forge defense attorney at Shuttleworth Law will take the time to learn about your case and develop a personalized strategy that presents your case tactically.
Start with a Free Case Strategy Session
Were you or someone you loved arrested for forging money orders? If so, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq. at Shuttleworth Law wants to help you find answers. Get a FREE Case Evaluation at (215) 774-1371 or message him directly via the contact form here.