This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice. The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of the interpretation of the contents of this article. It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem.
What is Forgery and Uttering?
Forgery refers to the creation of false documents (including but not limited to medical certificates, bank statements, and employer’s letters) or the altering of such documents so that the content within them is false.
Uttering, put simply, is to use or present those false documents that have been forged and to put them into circulation. To utter means to use or deal or attempt to use or deal with the documents. Under Queensland law, the ‘document’ can be anything in writing where there are marks, figures, symbols, codes or records.
When charging someone with this offence, law enforcement should be satisfied that there was an “intent to defraud” in some way when the offence occurred. This means an intent to practice a fraud of another person. It is not necessary to prove that there was intent to defraud one particular person.
An example of Forgery and Uttering can include someone creating a false medical certificate (forgery) and then using that certificate (uttering) in order to tender to the Court as a reason to not appear at court. Another usual example is the forging (writing on) and presenting (offering that to another person) a personal cheque.
Laws of forgery
Section 488 of the Criminal Code (Qld) 1899 states;
(1) A person who, with intent to defraud—
(a) forges a document; or
(b) utters a forged document;
commits a crime.
Elements of the Offence:-
It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has committed the offence. Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. For the charge of Forgery and Uttering the Prosecution must prove;
1. Defendant – The Prosecutor has to prove the identification of the offender;
2. Forged; or
4. A Document; With the Intent to Defraud.
Maximum Penalty for Forgery and Uttering:-
The maximum penalty for this offence is three years imprisonment.
In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Forgery and Uttering, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:
- Jail (suspended, parole or actual time);
- Intensive Corrections Order;
- Community Service Order;
The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.
There are a number of defences available to charges at law. Not every defence is available to every charge. You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;
- Mistake of Fact;
- Public Safety;
- Self Defence or defence of
- another person;
Which Court will your matter be heard in?
The charge of Forge and Utter will ordinarily be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland. The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty. There is no jury in the Magistrates Court.
The Defendant may however elect to have the matter heard in the District Court. In that event a committal hearing will have to be conducted and then the matter will proceed to the District Court. If you enter a plea of guilty then the charge will be determined by a Judge. If you enter a plea of Not Guilty then the trial will be before a Judge and Jury. If you are found guilty then you will be sentenced by the Judge.
What should I do if the police want to speak to me about a Forgery and Uttering allegation or if I am charged?
You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police.
You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to telephone a friend, relative or lawyer.
Call an Expert
If you are charged with a criminal offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over-the-phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert Criminal Lawyers and can represent you in court.
Call us on 1300 066 669 if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.