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Can You Pursue Criminal Charges for Forged Power of Attorney?

Question from Bob, Can You Pursue Criminal Charges for Forged Power of Attorney?

Answer from AI:

When someone forges a signature to create a power of attorney document and attempts to use it fraudulently, it’s a serious matter. In the scenario described, where an ex-boyfriend has forged a mother’s signature on a durable power of attorney and even had it notarized under false pretenses, there are several legal issues at play. This situation not only involves forgery but also attempted fraud and possibly notary fraud. Here’s a general overview of how these issues are handled, particularly within the jurisdiction of Texas, USA.

Understanding the Legal Framework

Forgery, fraud, and notary fraud are criminal offenses under both federal and state laws. In Texas, the relevant statutes can be found in the Texas Penal Code. It’s important to understand the basic definitions and implications of these offenses:

  • Forgery: Generally involves making, altering, or endorsing any writing in a way that purports it to be the act of another who did not authorize that act, with the intent to defraud or harm another.
  • Fraud: Involves intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.
  • Notary Fraud: Involves a notary public participating in deceitful practices, such as notarizing documents without the proper presence or identification of the signatory.

Steps to Take

If you believe that a durable power of attorney was forged, here are some steps you might consider:

  1. Report to Law Enforcement: Contact your local police department or the district attorney’s office to report the forgery and attempted fraud. Provide them with all the evidence you have, including the forged document and any communication with the bank that highlights the forgery.
  2. Consult with a Legal Professional: It’s crucial to seek advice from a lawyer who specializes in fraud or elder law (if applicable). They can provide guidance on the legal process and help protect the victim’s rights and assets.
  3. Notify the Bank and Other Institutions: Inform any institutions that may have been affected or could potentially be affected by the fraudulent power of attorney. This can help prevent any further unauthorized transactions.
  4. Contact the Notary Public’s Regulating Body: In Texas, notaries public are regulated by the Texas Secretary of State. Reporting notary fraud to them can initiate an investigation into the notary’s conduct.

Legal Considerations and Potential Charges

The specific charges that can be pursued depend on the details of the case. In Texas, forgery can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree, depending on the circumstances and the value involved in the fraud. Attempted fraud and notary fraud also carry their own penalties.

It’s important to note that the legal process for addressing these crimes involves investigation by law enforcement and potentially prosecution by the district attorney’s office. The decision to press charges and the specific charges filed will be determined by these authorities based on the evidence available.

Conclusion

Forgery and fraud are serious offenses with significant legal implications. If you suspect that a power of attorney has been forged, taking immediate action is crucial. While this overview provides a general guide, consulting with a legal professional is essential for navigating the specifics of your situation and ensuring that the victim’s rights are protected.

For more information on powers of attorney and fraud, you may visit the Texas Attorney General’s website and the Texas Secretary of State’s Notary Public section.

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