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Broward County Pastor Faces Criminal Charges For Allegedly Forging Quit Claim Deed


Statistically speaking, criminal defense lawyers are not  most likely to utter the words “quit claim deed” in a courtroom.  In fact, if you know what a quit claim deed is, you probably found out about them while engaging the services of a family law attorney or estate planning lawyer.  Quit claim deeds transfer ownership of a piece of real estate property without the exchange of money.  In other words, no sale takes place, but the original owner simply formally gives up his or her claim to ownership of the property and transfers it to the new owner.  It is not the same as a quiet title action, which you file if you have bought or inherited a real estate property and some documentation about the ownership history of the property is missing, so you ask the court to issue a court order declaring you the legal owner of the property.  People execute quit claim deeds when transferring ownership of their house to a family member or to a revocable trust as an estate planning strategy.  In divorce, the spouse who is vacating the marital home must sign a quit claim deed before the spouse who is keeping the home can refinance the mortgage.  A pastor of a church in Broward County is facing criminal charges in connection with a series of events related to a forged quit claim deed.  If you are being accused of forging a real estate document, contact a West Palm Beach white collar crime lawyer.

Florida Forgery Laws

According to Florida law, forgery is when a defendant produces or presents a fake document with intent to defraud the recipient by making the recipient believe that the document is genuine.  If the forged document is a check payable for an amount greater than $150, or if it is any other document besides a check, then forgery is a third-degree felony.  The maximum penalty for felony forgery is a fine of $5,000, five years of probation, and five years in prison.  If the forged document is a check payable for $150 or less, then forgery is a first-degree misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is a year in county jail.

James Edward Smith II is facing charges for allegedly forging a quit claim deed to New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, where he has served as a pastor.  As soon as he was in possession of the church building, he sold it for $600,000.  Smith allegedly used the proceeds of the sale to buy drugs.  He also allegedly wrote more than $1,000 in bad checks drawn on the church’s bank account.  His case is still pending, and, like all defendants in criminal cases, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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