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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
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Charged with Forgery and Forgery of a Public Record in ...

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Charged with Forgery and Forgery of a Public Record in Virginia for submission of 200 hours of Community Service with VFW. In reality, I was a member of the American Legion during the same time period. The Commonwealth Attorney is friends with my ex-wife and looking for anything to put me in prison. I completed the 200 hours of community service with different organizations (VA, Boy Scouts, Wounded Warrior, etc.) but thought that I was a member of the VFW instead of the American Legion. The Commonwealth Attorney got the VFW to state that I was not member of the VFW to substaniate their claim of forgery. I have asked for a jury trial to explain that I thought that I was a member of the VFW when in fact I was a member of the American Legion. I thought that forgery had to harm an innocent party (i.e. check writing, etc.). If so, who is the innocent party. What onus does the Commonwealth have to prove forgery. seems to me that I have to prove innocence otherwise I am guilty.
Thanks for the chance to help. I recently retired and am considering both VFW and AL but not sure which I will join

You most certainly do not have to prove your innocent. Our Constitution as well as your state make that clear

The crime of forgery generally refers to the making of a fake document, the changing of an existing document, or the making of a signature without authorization. Documents that can be the object of forgery include contracts, identification cards, and legal certificates.

In VA, for public record:
§ 18.2-168. Forging public records, etc
If any person forge a public record, or certificate, return, or attestation, of any public officer or public employee, in relation to any matter wherein such certificate, return, or attestation may be received as legal proof, or utter, or attempt to employ as true, such forged record, certificate, return, or attestation, knowing the same to be forged, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

INTENT TO DEFRAUD IS AN ELEMENT of the offense of forgery of public documents. Campbell v. Commonwealth, 14 Va. App. 988, 421 S.E.2d 652 (1992), aff'd, 246 Va. 1974, 431 S.E.2d 648 (1993).

SO, the commonwealth is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt. If you made a mistake between VFW and AL (and i confuse them myself on occasion) that is NOT forgery under the law

That said, this is a criminal trial and you will need a good Criminal Law attorney. I know of at least one in VA but I know there are many. I do not recommend you represent yourself in any criminal matter

Please let me know if you have questions else please hit the green button, its the only way i get paid
P. Simmons and 6 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
To substaniate my community service, I have statements from people who attest to my community service and photos as well. The issue is because I was not a member of the VFW, but a member of the American Legion can they deem this as forgery and forging a public document (submitted as proof to court of community service).
Well, as i said, if you did not intend to falsely sign a document, but it was an honest are not guilty. Further, the state will have a difficult time proving you guilty.

Seems silly to me as well, why is VFW so upset with this...are they out money somehow?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
There is no money, or instruments of value involved only to certify community service of 200 hours. This was an honest mistake. I thought that I was a member of the VFW but was a member of the American Legion. I continue to do community service as a disable veteran - but I am sure that will mean little or nothing to our Commonwealth prosecutor (friend with ex spouse). How can they prove guilt?
TO prove guilt they need to prove the elements of the statute above. They have to prove what you were thinking at the time. They can try and do this by showing that your state of mind was to defraud.

The comment of prosecutor wad friend of ex spouse is a bit troubling. Prosecutors are barred from prosecuting for personal reasons. This is all the more reason to contact a GOOD criminal defense lawyer in VA.

Please let me know if you have questions else please hit the green button, its the only way i get paid
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thank-you for your assistance.