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Criminal Jury Instructions

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10.1 Introduction to Forgery

The elements of forgery are: 1) falsifying a written instrument or possessing a falsified written instrument, and 2) the intent to deceive, defraud, or injure.  State v. Brown, 235 Conn. 502, 509 (1995); State v. Widlak, 85 Conn. App. 84, 91-92 (2004); State v. Henderson, 47 Conn. App. 542, 551, cert. denied, 244 Conn. 908 (1998).

The term "written instrument" "encompasses every kind of document and other items deemed susceptible of deceitful use in a 'forgery' sense, the main requirement being that it be 'capable of being used to the advantage or disadvantage of some person.'"  Commission to Revise the Criminal Statutes, Penal Code comments, Connecticut General Statutes Annotated (West 2007) § 53a-137, p. 322.  See State v. Edwards, 201 Conn. 125, 149-52 (1986) (the written instrument was the fingerprint card which the defendant signed at the time of his arrest with a fake name to obtain the advantage of a lower bond).

The forgery instruction must be narrowly tailored to the allegations.  In State v. Hahn, 207 Conn. 555, 561-63 (1988), the Court reversed the defendant's conviction for insufficient evidence because the charging document alleged that the defendant "falsely completed" a mortgage deed, but there was evidence that the deed was missing vital information and was therefore not complete. 

The intent element ("to deceive, defraud or injure") is stated in the disjunctive so the intent could be any of the three.  State v. Yurch, 37 Conn. App. 72, 80, appeal dismissed, 235 Conn. 469 (1995).  “Deceive indicates an inculcating of one so that he takes the false as true, the unreal as existent, the spurious as genuine."  Id.  To defraud means "to take or withhold from (one) some possession, right or interest by calculated misstatement or perversion of truth, treachery, or other deception."  Id., 81.  "To defraud, then, means to deceive in order to cheat or to deceive in a manner calculated to cause injury."  Id.  Deceive does not require an intent to injure because then it would mean the same as defraud.  "Our interpretation of an intent to deceive is supported by one of the purposes for the criminalization of forgery, which is to safeguard 'confidence in the genuineness of documents relied upon in commercial and business activities.'  W. LaFave, Criminal Law (1972) § 90, p. 671."  Id., 81 n.10.  See also State v. DeCaro, 252 Conn. 229, 242 n.12 (2000) (deceive does not require an intent to injure).  In DeCaro, it was sufficient to show that the defendant altered public documents in an effort to conceal her inadequate accounting and record keeping and not necessarily to conceal larcenous conduct. 

Forgery in the second degree and fabricating physical evidence are separate offenses.  State v. Servello, 80 Conn. App. 313, 320-24 (2003), cert. denied, 267 Conn. 914 (2004) (fabricating evidence is harm to the court, whereas forgery is harm to an individual).


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