The crime of uttering in Oklahoma City rarely makes the headlines. As a result, few people know about the crime and what it entails. Yet, the crime occurs and is punished in nearly every jurisdiction.
In essence, uttering a forged instrument occurs when a person knowingly publishes (utters) a forged or altered document, writing, or another financial instrument, thus placing it into general circulation. It is “uttered” with the intent to misrepresent it as true.
Uttering in Oklahoma Legally Defined
In Oklahoma, uttering a forged instrument is legally defined as the selling, exchanging, or delivering of a document, financial instrument, coin, or the like, knowing that it is forged, in exchange for money, goods, services, or any other type of consideration.
The law also covers the person who receives the forgery despite knowing it is a forgery. They too can be convicted of “uttering” a forgery. This crime is chargeable as a forgery in the third degree. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1577
Elements of the Crime
Like all crimes in Oklahoma, this crime has elements that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. If any element goes unproven, the defendant is not convicted for the crime.
Here are the elements:
- the act was intentional;
- there was a sale, exchange, delivery, or receipt of the document,
- or consideration;
- the instrument was false; and
- the defendant knew it was false.
You may wonder what this crime looks like when committed. It often involves the making, altering, or signing of a document, such as a check, with the intent to commit fraud.
For example, John is the caretaker for the elderly Mrs. Smith. John knows where Mrs. Smith keeps her checks. He makes a check out to himself and forges Mrs. Smith’s signature.
The forgery is committed when he makes out the check and signs it. When he cashes it, he has uttered the forgery.
The crime also occurs when a person presents a forged document or instrument such as a will, promissory note, or the like with the intent to defraud.
For example, John has seen Mrs. Smith’s will and he is not included as a beneficiary. He forges a new will, including Mrs. Smith’s signature, naming himself as a beneficiary. When she dies, John presents the will for probate.
Defenses to Uttering in Oklahoma
Knowledge of the forgery is an integral part of this crime. One of the most common defenses to this crime is the lack of knowledge.
For example, John sees a check signed by Mrs. Smith made out to him and proceeds to cash it. Unbeknownst to him, Lisa, Mrs. Smith’s other healthcare provider, forged the check and was going to tell John that she and he could split the money.
Other defenses may include a lack of intentionality. The act of “uttering” must be intentional and must be made with knowledge of the forgery. This requires that the prosecution prove what the defendant was thinking. This is a difficult threshold for the prosecution to meet, and the prosecution will try to use circumstantial evidence to prove intent.
Any facts that tend to show that the defendant acted without knowledge or intent are often critical to building a strong defense. An Oklahoma City attorney is in the best position to help build a strong defense against such criminal charges.
A conviction in the third degree, such as that for uttering a forged instrument, is punishable by both jail and a fine.
If the forgery was for less than $1,000, the defendant could spend up to a year in jail. A fine of up to $1,000 may be assessed in addition to or in lieu of incarceration.
However, the defendant could spend up to seven years in prison if the forgery involved $1,000 or more. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1621
Free Consultation: Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney
Our lawyer is well positioned to advise you accordingly, as he has the necessary training and experience. He has the wit and tenacity to match the skill of the Oklahoma City prosecutors.
For a free consultation with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City at 405-888-5400.
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