The offenses of forgery and counterfeiting both involve the intent to defraud a person or entity, although the specific elements for both can vary by jurisdiction. Generally, forgery is defined as using or possessing a writing or other item that isn't what it purports to be, like when a person signs a doctor's name on an actual prescription to get medication or alters the amount on an actual check before cashing it.
As a related offense to forgery, counterfeiting also involves deception, but here the wrongdoer makes or uses an imitation or false copy of something and passes it off as legitimate. This can include a range of items like currency, securities, retail merchandise, and other commercial goods.
Both forgery and counterfeiting offenses are treated very seriously in Missouri. If you're accused of violating either Missouri's forgery or counterfeiting laws, then you could face severe penalties if convicted.
Missouri Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws at a Glance
An attorney has the ability to comprehensively explain a law due to specialized training. However, anyone can access the law and get a good handle on what a statute says by referencing a plain English summary. See the chart below for a helpful summary on forgery and counterfeiting laws in Missouri.
Missouri Revised Statutes:
- Section 570.090 (Forgery)
- Section 570.100 (Possession of a Forging Instrument)
- Section 570.103 (Counterfeiting)
Elements of the Crime(s)
Forgery: You can commit forgery if, with the purpose to defraud, you do any of the following:
- Make, complete, alter, or authenticate, in any way, any writing made by another person without their authority;
- Erase, obliterate or destroy any writing; or
- Make or alter anything other than a writing, including receipts and universal product codes.
Counterfeiting: You can commit counterfeiting if you willfully:
- Manufacture, use, display, advertise, distribute, offer for sale, sell, or possess for purposes of selling or distributing any item or services, bearing or identified by a counterfeit mark.
Note: A person having possession, custody, or control of more than 25 items bearing a counterfeit mark shall be presumed to possess said items for purposes of selling or distributing.
Possible Penalties and Sentencing
Forgery is a class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Possession of a forging instrument is a class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
Counterfeiting is a class A misdemeanor, except for the following:
It is a class E felony and punishable by up to 4 years in prison if:
- The defendant was previously convicted of counterfeiting offense; or
- The violation involves more than 100 but fewer than 1,000 items with a counterfeit mark or the total retail value of all the marked items is $750 or more.
It is a class D felony and punishable by up to 7 years in prison if:
- The defendant was previously convicted of 2 or more counterfeiting offenses;
- The violation involves the manufacture or production of items with counterfeit marks; or
- The violation involves 1,000 or more items with counterfeit marks or the total retail value of the items is $25,000 or more.
- Lack of intent
- Mistake of fact
- Defendant had the legal authority to create the document.
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.
Missouri Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help With Your Forgery or Counterfeiting Case in Missouri
The laws on forgery and counterfeiting are very detailed. If you've been charged, it's a good idea to navigate the subject matter with an experienced attorney. Get in touch with a Missouri criminal lawyer today to get an advocate on your side.