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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26420
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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What is the punishment in PA for check forgery?

Customer Question

What is the punishment in PA for check forgery? It was a first time offense and no criminal history. I was told by an employer to write a check but afterwards the employer said he didn't say to do it. It's been 2.5 years and now the employer is pressing charges.

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

If the DA prosecutes for a forged signature on a check, since this is an instrument of currency, it would appear to be a felony in the second degree which has a maximum penalty of ten years of prison and a $25,000 fine. You can see the Pennsylvania forgery statute here. The DA can also prosecute this under the Pennsylvania bad check law if it fits the facts and circumstances of the case, and which has substantially less serious penalties depending upon the size of the bad check that was passed. A violation of this statute could be anything from a summary offense on up to a felony of the third degree: (max of 7 years and $15,000 fine).

As a general rule, non-violent offenses of this sort usually result in a probation offer. The victim will want restitution, and it's in his interest if the defendant is allowed to stay at liberty and earn an income so that the proceeds can be paid back. Of course, if the defendant did not commit a forgery, he may want to fight the case. One way or the other, he will need a criminal lawyer to advise him so that he knows the consequences of any offer and the strengths and weaknesses of his case so that he can make an intelligent decision on how to proceed with it. If he can afford counsel, he should bring a lawyer with him to his first court date. If not, he should plead not guilty at his arraignment and ask the judge to appoint him a public defender.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

The amount of the check was $600. I was told that I would get a bail amount upon surrender. Is there a statute of limitations for this type of situation? It was 2 years in October but it was just brought to me this past week that the old employer is pressing charges.
Also I just had a baby 3 weeks ago and both she and I are still under doctor’s care. Will I be left in jail or be able to go home to her and my 14 month old son?
It's upsetting that someone tells me to do something but then fires me and denies he said to do it and now my life may be ruined forever by him.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Please talk to a local lawyer, if you have one, before you put yourself through a voluntary surrender. I would not be able to say whether or not the police are just trying to set you up.
The statute of limitations is 2 years from the incident (or when the incident should have first become known) on a forgery, 3 on a felony fraud. It is 2 years on a misdemeanor. So this case could possibly be dismissible.

Regarding the police, one of two things are going on here: they haven't had enough evidence to bring you in for two years, but they want to get this old file off their desk and are hoping to get you to walk in and give them enough information so that they can prosecute, or ; 2) they are giving you a break because they know you have just had a baby and are letting you know in advance that you're going to be arrested so that you can make temporary child care arrangements until you can get bailed out.

Your lawyer can reach out and try to find out what's really going on and if you'll have to actually turn yourself in. If you do, your lawyer may also be able to work out the terms of your surrender so that you are processed through the system and brought before the judge for bail to be set, as quickly as possible.

If you can't afford a lawyer, the public defender's office will frequently pitch in with a jam like this, particularly when the defendant is likely to be assigned a public defense lawyer anyway. So give them a call if necessary.

If you do just surrender and, for whatever reason, cannot first speak to a lawyer then do not answer any questions about what you did or didn't do. Anything you say can be used against you and next thing you know you'll be signing a confession. If the police start questioning you about the forgery, tell them you want to wait to speak to a lawyer before making a statement about this matter to the authorities.

Good luck!

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I spoke with them right after it first happened. They had me write everything down and sign it then. The trooper said she tried to close this but the guy would not drop charges. She also said that her boss would not dismiss it and put a warrant out for my arrest. I was told that they would not be coming to arrest me and that I had to come in myself.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

I'm sorry to hear that at one point you signed a statement. For future reference (even when you think you are helping yourself) you never have to cooperate in an investigation when you're a suspect, and it's always a bad idea to do it. Even if you didn't say anything particularly harmful in that statement, it can still cause difficulties because you've given away your defense to the other side before the case even starts.

I'm still not sure whether the police are trying to be fair to you by giving you enough notice to get your kids taken care of and to surrender on your schedule and not theirs or whether they are just trying to close out their old file. I find it very interesting that they have told you that if you don't come in voluntarily, they are not going to come and take you in.

So again, contact a lawyer, like I said before. Apart from being able to get a better idea of what's really going on, if you do have to surrender, your lawyer may even be able to give you an idea of what bail is likely to be so that you can have it set aside and someone can post it on your behalf at their earliest possible chance.