You studied photos of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, sketched it and painted your own version. It's a really good likeness of the world's most famous painting –- so good that you hang it over the fireplace of your Georgia home and stun friends who wonder if just maybe you've pulled off a great art heist. A thief you're not, but did you commit forgery by re-creating the work of the Italian master?
Not unless you represent it as a da Vinci and try to sell it. You can enjoy your masterpiece, guilt-free.
Forgery occurs when someone falsifies something with the intent to deceive someone else. The most common type of forgery is signing someone else's name on a check to gain access to money illegally, but it is a wide-ranging crime. Things that can be forged include identification cards, historical documents, works of art, licenses, certificates, diplomas and contracts. Forgery can even include trying to pass off a written work as the work of someone famous to cash in on their name.
For prosecutors to be successful in proving forgery, they must convince a jury that your intent was to deceive and to profit from that deception.
Georgia forgery laws are strict, and a person convicted of the most serious charge (forgery in the first degree, which is a felony) faces a prison term of up to 15 years. Even the least serious charge of forgery in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor, carries a prison term of up to one year.
If you're facing a forgery charge, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can explain your intention and give your attorney the facts needed to fight the charge. Remember that the prosecutor must prove that you set out to deceive someone.