ILNews

Court addresses forgery statute on electronic credit card purchases

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Using someone else’s credit card and electronically signing that person’s name is considered “uttering” a written instrument under Indiana’s forgery statute, the state’s appellate court has ruled.

The three-judge panel unanimously reached that holding today in the case of Jessica Borjas v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1009-CR-1048, which hails from Marion Superior Judge Steven Rubick.

In September 2009, the Indianapolis woman went to a Family Dollar store and bought about $155 in merchandise using another person’s Visa credit card, swiping the card to process the transaction and then signing the name of the cardholder. That person had not given her permission to use the card. Neither electronic receipt reproduced the false signature, but it was stored in the system.

The state later charged Borjas with two Class C felony counts and she waived her right to a jury trial. She argued that an electronic signature after the sale – signifying that a sale had been approved electronically – did not fall within Indiana Code 35-43-5-2(b) because the sale was approved prior to her signing.

The trial judge disagreed and found her guilty on both counts.

On appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that the Indiana forgery statute specifically says that the state must prove that someone “with the intent to defraud, uttered a written instrument” without the authority to do so. The court found her argument without merit and specifically relied on a not-yet-certified ruling about three weeks ago in Green v. State, __ N.E.2d__, 2011 WL 1047053, at *2-*3 (Ind. Ct. App., March 23, 2011), that held it would run contrary to the General Assembly’s express interest to allow someone to avoid forgery convictions because of an electronic signature.

“Nonetheless, Borjas contends that the sale was completed when she received electronic approval that the funds to complete the sale were available,” the court wrote today. “That contention is not supported by citation to authority and is not otherwise persuasive. It is common knowledge that a signature may be required for a credit card transaction. When it is, the signature is not superfluous but serves to authenticate the sale.”

The judges also cited Indiana Code 26-2-8-106, in finding that a “signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.”

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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