Must a document have legal significance in order to be considered ‘forged’?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Yes. In order to be deemed a forgery, the writing must have some legal significance, and it must pretend to be something it is not. For example, it is considered forgery to write yourself a letter of reference for a job and purport it to be from a former employer. The legal liability the former employer could be held to for recommending someone makes it legally significant.

It is not considered forgery to write yourself a letter of introduction to a country club and purport it to be from a former member, because a letter of introduction has no legal, only social, significance. Painting a picture yourself and signing Picasso’s name is legally not forgery, as the painting has no legal significance, unless and until it is offered for sale or security as a genuine Picasso.

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