Although the definition may vary depending on the jurisdiction, forgery is generally defined as making, altering, or signing a written document in order to deceive someone. Tennessee, like most other states throughout the U.S., have laws that make forgery illegal. Tennessee also has a related crime called "criminal simulation," which generally addresses altering or making an object to defraud or otherwise harm someone.
Under Tennessee law, forgery and criminal simulation require "intent to defraud or harm," meaning if someone accidentally or unknowingly commits an act described in these statutes, they aren't committing in violation of the law. But, for example, if you void property tax receipts and keep the money while working in the Montgomery County Trustee's Office, you'll probably be facing forgery charges.
Tennessee Forgery and Criminal Simulation Laws at a Glance
While reading the actual language of the law is an important part of legal research, it can take time to parse out and understand since it's usually written in "legalese." For this reason, it's often helpful to also read an overview of laws free of legal jargon. In the following chart, you'll find an overview of forgery and criminal simulation laws in Tennessee as well as links to relevant statutes.
Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14:
Forgery occurs when a person "forges" a writing with the intent to harm or defraud. "Forging" is defined as:
- Altering, making, completing, executing or authenticating any writing so that it purports to (1) be the act of a person who didn't authorize the act; (2) have been executed at a time or place or in a sequence other than was in fact the case; or (3) be a copy of an original that doesn't exist.
- Making a false entry in a book or record.
- Issuing, transferring, publishing, etc. a writing that's forged.
- Possessing a writing that's forged with intent to utter.
Criminal simulation occurs when a person with intent to defraud or harm:
- Makes or alters an object so that is appears to have value because of its age, rarity, source, or authorship it doesn't have;
- Possesses such an object with intent to sell, pass or otherwise utter; or
- Authenticates or certifies such an object as genuine or different from what it actually is.
It's also criminal simulation for a person, with knowledge of its character, to possess:
- Any machinery that's designed to produce instruments reporting to be a debit or credit card of an issuer who didn't consent to the preparation of the card; or
- Any instrument designed, adapted or used for the commission of any theft of property or services by fraudulent means.
The charges for forgery and criminal simulation will be based on the provisions outlined in Section 39-14-105, but will not be charged as less than a Class E felony.
The authorized penalties for felonies are:
- Class A felony: imprisonment for 15 to 60 years and up to $50,000 in fines.
- Class B felony: imprisonment for 8 to 30 years and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class C felony: imprisonment for 3 to 15 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Class D felony: imprisonment for 2 to 12 years and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Class E felony: imprisonment for 1 to 6 years and up to $3,000 in fines.
Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14:
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.
Tennessee Forgery and Criminal Simulation Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help with Your Forgery or Criminal Simulation Case in Tennessee
The penalties for forgery and criminal simulation will vary depending on the circumstances, but it's always charged as a felony, which means that a conviction will lead to imprisonment and a criminal record. So, it's in your best interest to get in touch with local criminal defense attorney early in the process, to start planning your defense and, if needed, negotiate a plea bargain.