Forgery Conviction Reversed for Lack of Venue

In Carloss v. State, 82 Tex. Crim. 19, 198 S.W. 147 (1917), a 1917 forgery case, the defendant's conviction was reversed for lack of venue. In Carloss, the State prosecuted the defendant in Taylor County for a check he had allegedly forged in Tarrant County and mailed to his father-in-law in Taylor County. But the father-in-law, suspecting the check was forged, never cashed it; instead, he gave it to his banker and suggested that it be sent to the Tarrant County bank upon which it was drawn. This Court held that venue was not proper in Taylor County because the check was not forged there, and no one attempted to use or pass it in that county for a fraudulent purpose. Finding Carloss analogous, the court of appeals, in this case, held that "in order for appellant to attempt to use his false statement in Fort Bend, something more was required of him than merely perjuring himself in Harris County." And that court found that, since "the State failed to come forward with any evidence of an act appellant committed in Fort Bend to support venue," the State had therefore failed to prove venue. In Carloss, this Court used the terms "venue" and "jurisdiction" interchangeably, although they do not express precisely the same concept. See Boyle v. State, 820 S.W.2d 122, 139-40 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989) (noting that jurisdiction refers to the power of the court to act, venue refers to the place in which a court may exercise jurisdiction); Thomas v. State, 699 S.W.2d 845, 854-55 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985). Carloss, was decided before the 1921 amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which added language to the forgery venue statute to permit prosecution where the forged instrument is "deposited or placed with another person, firm, association, or corporation either for collection or credit for the account of any person, firm, association or corporation." In Carloss, the forged instrument was neither forged nor cashed in Taylor County, but it was received there in the course of its path to its ultimate destination. The Carloss decision interpreted a more narrower venue statute. Thus, a county in which the check was "used or passed ... for fraudulent purposes" had venue, but not a county in which the check was deposited by a third person who was not acting with a fraudulent purpose, but was merely taking intermediate steps toward the goal of final presentation to the issuing bank. Ever since the 1921 forgery venue amendments, however, venue would be proper in Taylor County as well as Tarrant County. In more modern times, the analysis for purposes of determining venue has included the effect of the offense upon a particular county as well as the location of the criminal act itself.