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§ 943.38, Forgery – Postal Money Order

State v. Eileen M. Entringer, 2001 WI App 157
For Entringer: William E. Schmaal, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether, for purposes of the forgery statute, a person can falsely make a postal order by writing in the name of someone else as the payer.

Holding: Because forgery applies only to falsehoods that materially affect the document’s legal efficacy; and because “the money order was as good as cash,” listing another name as payer “had nothing to do with the genuineness of the execution of the money order” and “does not constitute ‘falsely making’ the money order.” ¶17. The evidence therefore didn’t support bindover, even if the defendant had an illegitimate purpose (concealing her true identity) in transacting the money order:

¶26. Wisconsin Stat. § 943.38 requires that false making relate to the genuineness of execution, not to the genuineness of content. Here, Entringer’s use of her mother’s name on a postal money order did not affect the money order’s execution. Entringer’s actions may have been a false representation within the contents of the money order, but that does not affect the genuineness of the money order itself. Consequently, the circuit court correctly dismissed the uttering a forged writing charge.

State v. Czarnecki, 2001 WI App 155, 237 Wis. 2d 794, 615 N.W.2d 672 distinguished (endorsement of check with assumed name supports forgery, because endorsement is part of executing check; money order, by contrast was executed when purchased), see ¶19.


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