Misdemeanor crimes include a variety of non-violent offenses, such as forgery. Indeed, under the Texas Penal Code, forgery is a Class A misdemeanor in most cases. And forgery itself may cover any type of writing, not just items like money or stamps.
“Circumstantial Evidence” Allowed Jury to Infer Defendant Forged Signature on Proof of Insurance
For example, a state appeals court in Austin recently upheld the misdemeanor forgery conviction of a man charged with falsifying an insurance certificate. This particular case, Roberts v. State, began when the president of an insurance company informed the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) that someone had presented him with a certificate of insurance purportedly issued by his company. In fact, the president said, while the certificate itself was in the proper form, his signature had been forged.
Following an investigation by TDI, prosecutors accused the defendant with forging the signature in question. The defendant was the person insured by the certificate. At trial, prosecutors presented evidence suggesting the defendant needed to provide proof of insurance for an electrical subcontracting job. A witness testified the defendant personally delivered the forged certificate to the general manager of the construction project.
The defendant maintained he was unaware of any forged certificate and that he actually provided “insurance from a different company” when asked to do so by the construction project. The defense also noted that there was no evidence of any claims filed against the certificate and that nobody actually saw the defendant forge the insurance company president’s signature.
Despite this, the jury found the defendant guilty of misdemeanor forgery. The Texas Third District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, finding there was “sufficient evidence” to support the jury’s verdict. The appeals court said the evidence showed the plaintiff had a clear motive to forge the certificate–i.e., he needed insurance to continue working on the construction project. And while nobody ever filed a claim against the forged policy, the defendant did receive compensation from the project, which he could not have done without proof of insurance.
More to the point, the defendant was aware he needed to file proof of insurance, and witness testimony established he delivered the forged certificate. Even without direct evidence of him personally forging the document, the Court of Appeals said the jury was allowed to infer from the “circumstantial evidence” that the defendant was guilty of the crime of forgery.
Speak with a Houston Misdemeanor Crimes Defense Lawyer Today
The defendant in the above case received one year of community supervision (probation) for his conviction. While probation is certainly a less severe sanction than imprisonment, it can still have a significant impact on a defendant’s life. This is why it is important to take any misdemeanor criminal charge seriously.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense and need skilled legal representation from an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today. We represent clients throughout Houston, Galveston, and League City. Call (281) 280-0100.