I had some traveler’s checks that I thought were real and I cashed them. It turns out that the checks were counterfeit. A detective called me and told me that I was going to be arrested for forgery. He told me I need to pay back the money. Can they do this to me? Will I go to jail?

The seminal case in Pennsylvania in regard to forgery is cited at Commonwealth v. Gibson, 272 Pa. Super. 45. Gibson states that you must KNOW that the instrument is fake when you give to the person who gives you the money in order to be convicted of forgery. You may still be convicted of Bad Checks, but that is a misdemeanor not a felony. Also, you may be convicted of other misdemeanor crimes. Further, many counties offer ARD for forgery and bad checks if you have never been arrested before (see previous posts of ARD).

You may be able to pay it back and avoid prosecution, but the cops may be lying to you and may arrest you anyway.

In any event, whether a person goes to jail in Pennsylvania depends on their prior record score and the seriousness of the current offense. Most of the time people don’t go to jail for forgery, but if you have a prior conviction for a felony, you may. Anything is possible in regard to sentencing.

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