Q: I was arrested for supposedly forging someone’s name and theft by deception. They say I went to a jewelry store with a yellow slip and picked up a ring and signed the victim’s name. They showed the victim a picture. She snapped a picture with her phone, then posted it to social media. She then supposedly received a message from me on social media, but I never sent any message. because of that message told the officer my name. The officer then looked through JNET and PennDOT to finds my picture and he says it matches the person in video. But I have an alibi for that day. (Wexford, PA)
A: You can be arrested on another person’s word and belief that you committed a crime, even if you didn’t. I advise you to make no statements to anyone, not only police, but anyone. Also, gather your evidence and preserve it. If you have an Alibi defense in that you were at another location in the company of others at the time, get those persons names and contact information and any other evidence including video, time cards, receipts, etc. If the mistaken identity defense does not knock the case ouy early on, there is some interesting law on the use of social media as evidence that you may benefit from. Most importantly, get an attorney and share all the information with him or her. If you cannot afford one, sign up for the Public Defender.
Q: My uncle recently died. My husband and I was buying his vehicle because he could no longer drive. Two weeks before he died he handed us the signed title and told my husband happy birthday. Uncle was sick, and I was the caregiver. I did not go down right away and change the title. Now my cousin says when he gets out of prison he is going to press forgery charges on me. Can he? (McKeesport, PA)
A: Anybody can say they will sue somebody else. If he wants to have the police file charges, or file a civil suit through a lawyer, he will need evidence to base a civil or criminal prosecution on. This type of evidence would be the appearance of an obvious to the eye forgery, forgery supported by a hand writing expert opinion, or statements from witnesses. If this is not a forgery, you should not worry. If it is, see a lawyer.
Q: A family member moved in with my grandmother sold her house. My grandmother’s name was forged on the documents. We need to get it back.
A: I do believe your recourse is by hiring an attorney file a petition to rescind fraudulent transfer or a quiet title action. If you are correct this transfer was done through fraud. If grandmother is competent and can testify that the signature on the deed is not hers and she did not sign, the case is easier. If she is incompetent to testify, it will be a little more involved. You may need her doctor to testify of her mental competence at the time the deed was supposedly signed and perhaps even a handwriting expert. I would see an attorney as soon as possible so something can be filed before the house is transferred again.
Q: Can a minor be charged with a felony? (forgery, bad checks, theft by deception) What is the punishment? Checks were taken from a friend’s grandparents, their signatures forged, and the checks cashed. Two people were involved, one a minor and one an adult. The adult is currently incarcerated, but the minor would like to turn herself in for the crimes they helped commit. The minor participated willingly in the acts and is fully willing to take a punishment, given the punishment on the adult is lessened.
A: Yes, minors can be charged with just about all of the charges an adult can be charged with. The charges are filed in juvenile court. This minor and his parents should speak to an experienced lawyer in your county, before turning himself in and confessing. He may or may not have a defense. The police may or may not have enough evidence to charge him. If there is no defense, he can accept whatever punishment they are offering. If sentenced in juvenile court, the possible sentences would depend on this juvenile’s prior criminal history among many other things. If he has a good background, he could possibly receive a Consent Decree followed by probation which does not result in a conviction, if he completed probation successfully. The other more severe sentences moving up the scale would be, electronic home monitoring and probation, regular probation, or placement in a juvenile facility.
Q: I took a taxi from the Pittsburgh airport to my house, which ended up being an hour long ride. As a frequent traveler for work, I knew that landing at 4:30 p.m. meant I’d be sitting in traffic. I ended up taking a Veterans Taxi. The driver recklessly weaved in and out of lanes – going into the emergency lane even to pass cars. When we got to my house, I went to pay with my credit card on the machine in the van. The driver took my card and I thought maybe the machine is broken and that he’d run the card in the front. He didn’t offer any explanation. I should have questioned it, but didn’t think much. I asked for a receipt, which was printed from the car. The driver wrote in the tip by hand on the receipt, which seemed sketchy. I found later that day that the receipt amount didn’t match what I was charged since I noticed the square receipt in my email. I also noticed a scribble in the signature line. I contacted the taxi company and the taxi upset that there not only was a discrepancy but the driver signed my signature. There is apparently video surveillance in the van but the manager/owner has now taken the driver’s side without even pulling this footage. What can I do? This is fraud.
A: The beauty of using credit cards is that most have a dispute resolution process whereby you just report to them in writing of a disputed charge and they hold payment and investigate it. So, report this either via phone or on your credit card company website and fill out and submit the necessary forms. If you want to go even further, you can contact the county police (I believe they have jurisdiction over the airport) or your local police in the town where the taxi ride ended (may have jurisdiction as well as that is where the transaction was signed) and see if they are interested in filing a theft, access device or forgery charges. My thought is that your credit card company will work it out with the cab company.
Q: Can I press forgery charges on behalf of my late mother? My mother died recently and we have discovered that a sibling signed my mother’s name to several checks that were drawn on my mother’s credit card. I went to the bank to which these checks were written (to pay a mortgage) and the bank told me that only my mother could press charges.
A: Yes, you would have to open an estate on behalf of your mother. The estate could then sue or prosecute the sibling as the legal party of interest. If there are sufficient assets there are other options to prosecuting. The estate attorney can advise you.