Three Charged with Creating and Selling Forged Disability Placards
Three Tallahassee residents are facing charges of acquiring disability placards for the purpose of selling them to those without disabilities. The placards would allow them to park in spaces that are designated for those with disabilities. The three are believed to be part of a larger network of 11 individuals who sold over 700 disability placards to members of the public.
Florida Highway Patrol says that the investigation started in February when one individual applied for a large number of disability placards ostensibly on behalf of others in South Florida. According to authorities, the individuals forged the signature of a retired pediatrician to acquire the disability placards.
Parking spots for the disabled are already difficult to come by. Those who work with the disabled and the disabled themselves sometimes have difficulty finding handicapped-accessible spaces. It is considered a misdemeanor for a doctor to sign off on a disability placard when the patient doesn’t need one. Most will have to ask their doctors to certify them for a disability placard. Any doctor who certifies them without cause can face a $1,000 fine or 1 year in jail.
Forgery under Florida law
Under Florida statute 831.01, the crime of forgery is committed when a person alters, falsifies, counterfeits or forges a document that carries “legal efficacy” with the intent to defraud another person or entity. In this case, the defendants are accused of forging the name of a retired pediatrician to acquire a large number of disability placards and then sell them to others.
In this case, “legal efficacy” means that a document has legal significance that reflects an individual’s right to do something. In this case, the disability placard gives individuals the right to park in handicap-accessible spaces.
To qualify under the statute, the forgery must have legal efficacy. In other words, it must be a legal document that is being forged. Examples include bills of lading, checks, deeds, wills, testaments, receipts, tickets, promissory notes, and more.
Forgery is considered a third-degree felony under the law. As such, any individual who forges a legal document can spend at most five years behind bars, five years of probation, or a $5,000 fine.
Uttering forged documents
Another related but distinct crime is known as uttering forged documents. The defendants in this case can be charged with both forgery and uttering forged documents. A forged document is “uttered” when an individual makes use of a forged document to achieve some goal. In the case mentioned above, the forged document was uttered when the defendants applied for the disability placard.
Uttering forged documents is also considered a third-degree felony under the law and punishable by up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a fine of $5,000.
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