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Theft and forgery encompass a wide range of crimes at the misdemeanor and felony charge levels. These charges may include identity theft, forgery of checks or bank account information, forgery of legal documents, theft by deception and other crimes. In some states, identity theft is included in this area of criminal activity. Each state is able to implement its own guidelines around the definitions, laws and penalties of theft and forgery. If you find yourself facing criminal charges for theft or forgery, it is essential to retain a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court and protect your rights.

State Laws Around Theft and Forgery
In the state of Ohio, theft and forgery are included in laws around fraud. The state defines forgery to be fabricating or creating any writing when the writing is not authenticated. Ohio defines theft to be obtaining or exerting control over either the property or services of another without consent, beyond implied consent or through means of deception, threat or intimidation.

Washington State separates a wide range of theft types in its criminal statutes. The state has specific laws and penalties around theft of mail, livestock, television subscription services and firearms. The firearm theft codes may involve higher penalties than some of the other forms of theft and forgery in the state of Washington. Theft with the intent to resell may incur additional charges for a person who is charged with theft of personal or real property.

In the state of California, theft is defined to be a crime against property. The government must prove that you had the intent to steal in order for you to be convicted of theft. In California, theft may include taking real property, personal property, money or the services of a person.

New York’s theft and forgery laws also include possession of a forged instrument as felony violations. Forged instruments include equipment for conducting forgery. In Washington state, disposal of the stolen or forged items or the equipment used to create the forgery is a separate crime.

Criminal Penalties for Theft and Forgery
In Ohio, the penalties for theft and forgery depend on the value of the stolen goods, cash or services. An amount more than $500 and less than $7,000 is a felony of the fifth degree. Amounts between $7,000 and $149,999 are felonies of the fourth degree, and amounts over $150,000 are third-degree felonies. Penalties are higher for theft or forgery from an elderly person. Theft of cars, dangerous substances, or government property results in higher charges and potential penalties in most states. Theft from a vulnerable adult elevates the criminal charges and potential penalties in Washington and many other states.

If you are charged with misdemeanor or felony theft or forgery, it is important to seek legal counsel. A criminal defense attorney may establish a line of defense on your behalf in order to protect your rights. The attorney also offers guidance on understanding the charges, the possible penalties that you face and how a conviction could affect your future. Working with a criminal defense attorney also helps your case proceed as smoothly as possible through the court system.

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