You can get up to 10 years’ jail time for forgery if the case proceeds by way of indictment. If you are tried on a summary basis, the maximum punishment is two years less one day in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
What is forgery?
Forgery is when someone makes a false document, knowing it to be false, with the intent of using it as a genuine document. The offence of forgery in Canada is known more specifically as ‘uttering a forged document’. It is illegal under Section 368 of the Criminal Code. Forgery might include:
- Copying someone else’s signature on a cheque
- Copying someone else’s signature on a piece of artwork
- Creating false marriage/birth/death certificates
- Creating false letters for the purposes of insurance or healthcare
- Amending a Last Will and Testament without the testator’s consent
Forgery is closely linked to counterfeiting, although there are some differences between the two. Counterfeit goods are imitations of the original, such as counterfeit money, stamps or handbags. Forgery, on the other hand, usually involves amending a genuine document in some way, whether by adding to it or removing/erasing something from it.
A hybrid offence
Forgery is a hybrid offence in Canada. This means the prosecution can either proceed on a summary basis or by way of indictment. Indictable offences are more serious than summary offences and so carry heavier penalties.
The Crown will decide whether to charge the accused with a summary offence or an indictable offence. This dictates what the maximum available penalty is, if the accused is found guilty.
Penalties for forgery in Canada
The maximum penalty for forgery in Canada is:
- 10 years in jail, if tried by indictment
- Two years less one day in jail and/or a $5,000 fine, if tried on a summary basis
If you are handed a fine and this is not paid, then the court may order you to be imprisoned instead, in default of payment.
Therefore, the penalties for forgery are serious. If you are accused of forgery, it is vital to have an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side.
Vancouver theft and fraud lawyers
At Mickelson & Whysall Law Corporation, our criminal defence solicitors specialize in all subsets of fraud. Whether you have been accused of forgery, counterfeiting, theft or fraud, we can help you. We know what defence to use in your particular case and will work to secure the best possible outcome on your behalf. Contact us today!