1) Defendant passed or offered to pass as true a document (typically a check).
2) Defendant knew the document to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeited.
3) Defendant intended to injure or defraud some person or firm.
Like most theft crimes, uttering a forged instrument requires that the State of Florida prove knowledge and intent. As a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, I can tell you that this is very difficult to do. It requires the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, what the accused person was thinking when they allegedly committed the crime. Absent very strong independent evidence, this is a tough feat to accomplish.
Uttering a forged instrument is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. First-time offenders can be offered Pretrial Intervention if eligible. In that instance, it may be possible to have the felony arrest expunged.
If an accused person accepts a plea of guilty or no contest, they may receive a withhold of adjudication followed by probation. Restitution will likely be a condition. Eligible people can have these arrests sealed upon completion of probation.
However, plea options notwithstanding, these are felony charges that should always be fought head on. How can the State prove that you knew the check you were trying to cash was fraudulent?
Let's say you work for somebody who writes you a check, and you take it to you bank believing that it's a good check. If you try to cash it, and it turns out that the check was fraudulent, how will the State prove your knowledge of the fraud or intent to defraud?
Cases like these can usually be resolved by a phone call to the prosecutor. A good South Florida defense attorney can get on the phone with the State Attorney's Office and highlight the weaknesses in the case. Remember, police officers don't typically conduct in-depth investigations in third-degree felony cases. They take reports and make arrests. That's it.
It takes a strong case for the State to prove the elements of intent and knowledge. I have made a career out of fighting the State on every one of my clients' cases. Having been a prosecutor myself, I feel that I have an advantage over other attorneys as I know personally what it takes to prove a case at trial.
I represent accused people in Miami-Dade County and Broward County. Uttering a forged instrument is a serious felony that can have long-term consequences, such as a permanent felony record, or even time in prison. I practice criminal defense exclusively and would like to discuss your matter with you, in person or on the phone. My consultations are always free and confidential.
Call me today to discuss your case.