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Massachusetts Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws

Forgery and counterfeiting are related crimes, but states usually define them in separate statutes in their criminal codes. Forgery involves making, altering, or signing a document with the intent to deceive someone. In comparison, counterfeiting occurs when a person makes fake money or goods and passes them off as the real thing.

States and the federal government have laws that address forgery and counterfeiting. This means that depending on the circumstances of the crime, it could be charged under the laws of a particular state or federal law. Massachusetts has a chapter devoted to a variety crimes that are categorized as "forgery and crimes against the currency." The crimes include anything from actually forging records to "uttering" forged writings to possessing tools to make counterfeit coins.

Massachusetts Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws: The Basics

While an important step of legal research is reading the actual statute that covers your question, it can sometimes be a daunting task since statutes aren't always easy to decipher. For this reason, reading an overview of a statute in plain English can be incredibly helpful. In the following chart, you'll find an overview of Massachusetts forgery and counterfeiting laws and links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s) Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 267, Section 1, et seq. (Forgery and Crimes Against the Currency)
Elements of Forgery

There are multiple statutes that address forgery, but the general elements of forgery are:

  1. Making, altering, using, or possessing
  2. A false writing with legal significance*
  3. With intent to defraud or deceive.

*Examples of documents with legal significance include (but are not limited to) deeds, wills, powers of attorney, or public record.


The penalties for violating Massachusetts forgery and counterfeiting laws will vary depending on the circumstances of the crime. Here are examples of penalties:

  • Section 5 (Uttering False or Forged Records, Deeds, or Other Writings): punishable by up to ten years in state prison or up to two years in jail.
  • Section 17 (Counterfeiting Coin or Possession of Ten or More Pieces of False Money): punishable by up to life in state prison.
Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 266:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws: Related Resources

Please visit the links below for more information and resources related to this topic.

Charged with Forgery or Counterfeiting in Massachusetts? Get Legal Help

As you can see, forgery is treated as a serious crime in Massachusetts, but there are still some important evidentiary hurdles for any prosecutor to overcome. If you're facing forgery or counterfeiting charges in Massachusetts, you should consider speaking with a local criminal defense attorney to find out how the laws apply to your particular situation and how you can protect your rights and defend yourself going forward.

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