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1463. Elements Of Offenses -- 18 U.S.C. 495

The first three paragraphs of 18 U.S.C. § 495 set forth three separate offenses: forgery, uttering a forged instrument, and presentation of a false writing to an officer of the United States in support of a claim against the government. The second and third paragraphs specifically contain "intent to defraud the United States" as an element of those offenses. However, the forgery provision, 18 U.S.C. § 495(1), makes no mention of "intent to defraud the United States." Nevertheless, the courts have interpreted the word "forgery" as used in the statute to embody the concept of forgery that existed at common law. See Gilbert v. United States, 370 U.S. 650 (1961); United States v. Hill, 579 F.2d 480 (8th Cir. 1978). Under common law forgery, it was incumbent on the prosecution to establish an intent to defraud. Accordingly, in prosecutions initiated under 18 U.S.C. § 495, the government must prove that the defendant possessed the requisite intent to defraud the United States.

[cited in JM 9-64.133]

Updated January 17, 2020