On popular TV shows and in movies in America, people using a fake ID or other falsified documents might get away with it. The act itself might seem okay, not that big of a deal or perhaps even glorified. However, forging documents is a serious crime. All states in the U.S. consider forging a felony, including South Carolina.

Forgery, in its most basic form, is the act of creating something false in order to deceive. More specifically, the forger must intend to use the forged item for a reason. Creating false documents or altering a signature for financial gain or theft is a criminal forgery.

FindLaw states that forging someone’s signature on a check is the most common act of forgery, but there are many. Altering an academic transcript, changing a title or deed and creating a fake ID are typical examples. Illegally printing money, known as counterfeiting, is a federal crime.

Some states consider certain forgeries a misdemeanor only. For example, the South Carolina Code of Laws indicates that forging or using a forged transcript or diploma is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by no more than $1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail or both. Similarly, if a forgery does not include any monetary gain, it is a misdemeanor. Someone facing this charge could receive a fine and serve up to three years in prison. If the forgery does include a monetary amount, however, the stakes are much higher. A person convicted of a felony forgery could serve up to 10 years in prison, depending on the dollar amount of the forgery.