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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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Hi, I gave my fiance permission to sign one of my checks and

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Hi, I gave my fiance permission to sign one of my checks and write it to himself. My bank refused to cash it because they said the signature did not match. Loss prevention called me and I told them that I did sign it, and he was my fiance and it was OK. They insisted that it was not my signature, and the conversation ended shortly after. My question is, will the bank escalate this to police, and attempt to press forgery charges on my fiancé?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.

Good afternoon Kristin,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of the situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

While it is not illegal to lie to the bank, it would have been simpler if you simply had told them what you authorized.

And as you granted your fiancé the right to sign your name to the check, there is no forgery and neither of you will face criminal prosecution for this incident. However, the bank does have the obligation not to cash a check that they have reason to believe is forged. For all they knew, you signed a check for $10.00 and he took another and forged it for $100.

But no, the courts won't be involved in this incident.

Please keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in your future.

Doug

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Thanks for your help.


 


I do have a concern still. I read online that regardless of whether or not I wish to pursue charges, that the bank can still press charges because signing someone else's name with the intent to fraud is forgery. At that point it's out of my hands.


 


My fiance is on probation, and is scheduled to be off Nov. 1, 2013. We are nervous this will affect his stance.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.
Good afternoon,

I think that you are over-analyzing this issue Kristin. You gave him the legal right to sign your name. That vitiates all indicia of fraudulent intent on his part.

You may reply back to me again if you have additional questions, and I will continue to assist you.

I wish you the best in your future,

Doug
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

OK thanks. I was just worried because it was loss prevention that called, and they seemed pretty serious!

Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.
Hi Kristin,

Forgery is serious---when it really happens, and had he not been given permission to sign your name, he could have been in a lot of trouble.

Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Please keep in mind that even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

Thanks again.

Have a great day,

Doug
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

I will rate you well, I would just like you to read what another attorney on JustAnswer wrote:


 


Technically you can be charged with the crime of forgery because you can never pretend to be someone else by signing their name. A person cannot give you permission to commit forgery by signing their name. In other words, you and only you can sign your own name. It is unique and different for each individual and you cannot give someone the authority to try to copy or duplicate it.


 


If this is true, then the bank can legally pursue charges against my fiancé, without my consent.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.
I disagree with what was written there.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

because...?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.
The offense of forgery requires proof of inducing a victim to accept the false document as genuine and by reason of accepting it, to do some act to his own or to another person’s prejudice. You gave him permission to sign, you gave him permission to take money from your account. The bank accepting the check was neither to their prejudice or yours or anyone else's. Therefore, if there is no proof of prejudice---there is no crime.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

The bank did not accept the check because he stated it was my signature. Therefore he did, "induce the victim to accept the false document as genuine." So technically, the bank is now the alleged victim..

Expert:  LawTalk replied 9 months ago.
I am unable to further assist you in this matter, and I am going to opt out of your question and open this up for other professionals.

Your question is being placed back in the question list for other professionals to see, and to respond to. You do not have to stay online for the question to be active. Should another professional pick it up, you should be alerted by email unless you actively disable this feature.

There is no need for you to reply at this time as this may "lock" your question back to me, thus inadvertently delaying other professionals' access to it.

I apologize for any inconvenience and wish you well in your future.



Doug
Expert:  Thelawman2 replied 9 months ago.
Technically, you are correct. This would fall under the law of forgery because the signature is defrauding the bank. A similar situation arises around tax time when spouses sign for their significant other. However, as the other expert stated, banks, and the government, generally overlook this and do not press any charges. They just don't want to have someone cash a check with a weird signature, be told that the signature was given with consent, but then later the person changes their story and asks for the money back.
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 9 months ago.

Hello imjra10h,

Hoping not to compound the confusion already generated in response to your question, let me add the following to the discussion:

Doug's comment ... "And as you granted your fiancé the right to sign your name to the check, there is no forgery and neither of you will face criminal prosecution for this incident." ... is absolutely correct.

In response to your question ... "I do have a concern still. I read online that regardless of whether or not I wish to pursue charges, that the bank can still press charges because signing someone else's name with the intent to fraud is forgery. At that point it's out of my hands." ... The online statement is correct, but has no application to your situation. The key is the highlighted portion of the statement "with the intent to fraud". Where there is no intent to commit fraud, there is no forgery.

The answer your received ... "Technically you can be charged with the crime of forgery because you can never pretend to be someone else by signing their name. A person cannot give you permission to commit forgery by signing their name. In other words, you and only you can sign your own name. It is unique and different for each individual and you cannot give someone the authority to try to copy or duplicate it." ... is just flat wrong.

While it is true that a person cannot give you permission to commit forgery by signing your name, it is a forgery only if done with intent to defraud. You can legally give another person permission to sign your name for a lawful purpose. Based on the facts as you described them, no reasonable DA would ever file charges because the crime cannot be proved.

Doug's further response ... "The offense of forgery requires proof of inducing a victim to accept the false document as genuine and by reason of accepting it, to do some act to his own or to another person’s prejudice. You gave him permission to sign, you gave him permission to take money from your account. The bank accepting the check was neither to their prejudice or yours or anyone else's. Therefore, if there is no proof of prejudice---there is no crime." ... is a correct statement of the law.

The other answer you received ... "Technically, you are correct. This would fall under the law of forgery because the signature is defrauding the bank." ... is incorrect. The money in your account is yours, not the bank's. You can give it to whomever you want. By authorizing your fiance to sign your name, you committed no fraud against the bank. Therefore, there was no forgery. And no crime.

Because Doug/LawTalk gave you correct information about your situation, may I suggest that you rate his answers favorably.

If you have any other questions about this situation, please let me know.

 

Sorry, I am having trouble with the site tonight. This is my third try to get this complete answer posted.

Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience: CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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