Forgery in Florida

Under Florida Statute 831.01, the crime of Forgery is committed when a person falsifies, alters, counterfeits, or forges a document that carries “legal efficacy” with the intent to injure or defraud another person or entity.

Legal Efficacy

To fall under the purview of the forgery statute, a document must have some legal efficacy, meaning it must have a legal significance that affects another person's legal right to something. [1] As such, forging a love letter to someone will not constitute criminal forgery.

Statutory examples of a legal document include checks, deeds, wills, testaments, powers of attorney, insurance policies, bill of lading, promissory notes, receipts, passage tickets, and any documents that are required to be certified or notarized by law.

Penalties for Forgery

The crime of Forgery is a Third Degree Felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Forgery is assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code. A judge may sentence a person convicted of Forgery to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Defenses to Forgery

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Forgery are:

Intent to Defraud

Forgery requires proof that a forged document was intended to be viewed as genuine.

Patently Ridiculous Writings

Forgeries of patently ridiculous documents, such as deeds to land on the moon, licenses to kill, or checks for a “Zillion” dollars do not qualify as having the ability to fool people and should not be considered criminal forgery.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Forgery in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.


  1. State v. Escobedo, 404 So. 2d 760 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981)