Forgery (also known as “uttering a false instrument”) is punishable as a felony in Iowa. The crime of forgery consists of knowingly signing someone else’s name, faking their handwriting, or falsifying a legal document or any document related to money or property, with the intention of committing a fraud. The most common form of forgery in Iowa is forging someone’s name to a personal check.

In Iowa, a person is guilty of forgery if, with intent to defraud or injure anyone (or while knowingly facilitating a fraud or injury), the person:

  • alters a writing without permission (for example, switching the numbers on your pay check to steal money from your employer)
  • makes, issues, or transfers a writing that purports to be the act of another without authorization from that person to do so, as could happen if a patient
  • created a false doctor’s note to get time off of work creates or alters documents that purport to be executed at a time or place, or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case (this might arise if someone alters the date of a contract or a will to make it seem as though the document was the latest, and therefore controlling expression of a business agreement or someone’s wishes for their estate)
  • creates or alters documents that purport to be a copy of an original document that never in fact existed (for instance, forging an honorable military discharge document to gain veteran benefits when you never in fact served in the armed forces), or
    knowingly possesses or uses any of the above-mentioned documents.

In Iowa, most forms of forgery are class D felonies. Committing forgery is punishable up to five years in prison.
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