When you’re feeling sick or if you’ve been injured, a doctor’s note can let places like your job know that you need to spend time at home recuperating. However, if you’re not sick and you fake a doctor’s note so you can get out of certain obligations, such as making a court appearance, you could spend time behind bars.
Such happened recently to an Arizona woman. She wasn’t sick or injured herself, nor was her husband, whom she allegedly forged a doctor’s note for. The man had been charged with drug crimes and was scheduled to appear in court. His wife went to the court and said he wouldn’t be able to make it because he was about to undergo surgery.
A couple of weeks later, the woman returned to the courthouse. This time she had a signed doctor’s note with her that said her husband couldn’t do any physical activity.
Something struck this as odd with investigators, and they called the doctor to verify the information. He said the woman’s husband was not his patient, and he had never treated anybody by that name. The note was a fake.
The woman was charged with forgery, identity theft, and fraud.
Arizona law defines forgery as passing something off as genuine when a person knows it to be fake to defraud another.
Specifically, A.R.S. 13-2002, says an individual commits this offense when they:
- Falsely create or alter a written instrument,
- Know they have a faked document, or
- Present a document that has false information
The woman who tried to help her husband evade appearing in court, committed forgery because she wrote something that she said was written by a doctor. She also tried to pass that note off as genuine to the court when she knew it wasn’t.
Forgery is a class 4 felony and can result in up to 3 years imprisonment.
What’s Identity Theft?
The next crime the Arizona woman was charged with was identity theft. Broadly defined, this offense occurs when a person uses someone else’s personal identifying information without having consent to do so.
Under the identity theft law, the intention behind the act must have been to:
- Cause a loss to the other person,
- Engage in an unlawful act, or
- Obtain or continue employment
Because the Arizona woman used a forged note to try to get her husband out of court, she was charged with this offense. Failing to attend a scheduled hearing without a valid reason is unlawful conduct.
Identity theft is also a class 4 felony.
What Is Fraud?
In Arizona, when a person uses deception to obtain something beneficial for themselves (or that harms someone else), they are committing fraud.
Returning to the case of the Arizona woman who wrote a doctor’s note for her husband, she was charged with fraud because she engaged in a scheme to defraud. Her alleged intent for such conduct was to keep her husband from appearing at court (which could be considered a benefit for him).