ILNews

Court addresses forgery statute on electronic credit card purchases

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

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.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT