JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
The issue in this case is whether a person who knowingly procures genuine vehicle titles that incorporate fraudulently tendered odometer readings receives those titles "knowing [them] to have been falsely made." 18 U. S. C. § 2314 (emphasis added). We conclude that he does.
Petitioner Raymond Moskal participated in a "title-washing" scheme. Moskal's confederates purchased used cars in Pennsylvania, rolled back the cars' odometers, and altered their titles to reflect those lower mileage figures. The altered titles were then sent to an accomplice in Virginia, who submitted them to Virginia authorities. Those officials,
The Government indicted and convicted Moskal under 18 U. S. C. § 2314 for receiving two washed titles, each recording a mileage figure that was 30,000 miles lower than the true number. Section 2314 imposes fines or imprisonment on anyone who, "with unlawful or fraudulent intent, transports in interstate . . . commerce any falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited securities . . ., knowing the same to have been falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited." On appeal, Moskal maintained that the washed titles were nonetheless genuine and thus not "falsely made." The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that "`"the purpose of the term `falsely made' was to . . . prohibit the fraudulent introduction into commerce of falsely made documents regardless of the precise method by which the introducer or his confederates effected their lack of authenticity."'" United States v. Davis, 888 F.2d 283, 285 (CA3 1989), quoting United States v. Mitchell, 588 F.2d 481, 484 (CA5), cert. denied, 442 U.S. 940 (1979), quoting United States v. Huntley, 535 F.2d 1400, 1402 (CA5 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 929 (1977).
Notwithstanding the narrowness of this issue, we granted certiorari to resolve a divergence of opinion among the Courts of Appeals. 494 U.S. 1026 (1990). See United States v. Sparrow, 635 F.2d 794 (CA10 1980) (en banc), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1004 (1981) (washed automobile titles are not "falsely made" within the meaning of § 2314). We now affirm petitioner's conviction.
As indicated, § 2314 prohibits the knowing transportation of "falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited securities"
Whether a valid title that contains fraudulently tendered odometer readings may be a "falsely made" security for purposes of § 2314 presents a conventional issue of statutory construction, and we must therefore determine what scope Congress intended § 2314 to have. Moskal, however, suggests a shortcut in that inquiry. Because it is possible to read the statute as applying only to forged or counterfeited securities, and because some courts have so read it, Moskal suggests we should simply resolve the issue in his favor under the doctrine of lenity. See, e. g., Rewis v. United States, 401 U.S. 808, 812 (1971).
In our view, this argument misconstrues the doctrine. We have repeatedly "emphasized that the `touchstone' of the rule of lenity `is statutory ambiguity.'" Bifulco v. United States, 447 U.S. 381, 387 (1980), quoting Lewis v. United
Because the meaning of language is inherently contextual, we have declined to deem a statute "ambiguous" for purposes of lenity merely because it was possible to articulate a construction more narrow than that urged by the Government. See, e. g., McElroy v. United States, 455 U.S. 642, 657-658 (1982). Nor have we deemed a division of judicial authority automatically sufficient to trigger lenity. See, e. g., United States v. Rodgers, 466 U.S. 475, 484 (1984). If that were sufficient, one court's unduly narrow reading of a criminal statute would become binding on all other courts, including this one. Instead, we have always reserved lenity for those situations in which a reasonable doubt persists about a statute's intended scope even after resort to "the language and structure, legislative history, and motivating policies" of the statute. Bifulco v. United States, supra, at 387; see also United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336, 347 (1971) (court should rely on lenity only if, "[a]fter `seiz[ing] every thing from which aid can be derived,'" it is "left with an ambiguous statute," quoting United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch 358, 386 (1805) (Marshall, C. J.)). Examining these materials, we conclude that § 2314 unambiguously applies to Moskal's conduct.
"In determining the scope of a statute, we look first to its language," United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 580 (1981), giving the "words used" their "ordinary meaning," Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 9 (1962). We think
Moskal resists this construction of the language on the ground that the state officials responsible for issuing the washed titles did not know that they were incorporating false odometer readings. We see little merit in this argument. As used in § 2314, "falsely made" refers to the character of the securities being transported. In our view, it is perfectly consistent with ordinary usage to speak of the security as being "falsely made" regardless of whether the party responsible for the physical production of the document knew that he was making a security in a manner that incorporates false information. Indeed, we find support for this construction in the nexus between the actus reus and mens rea elements of § 2314. Because liability under the statute depends on transporting the "falsely made" security with unlawful or fraudulent intent, there is no reason to infer a scienter requirement for the act of falsely making itself.
Short of construing "falsely made" in this way, we are at a loss to give any meaning to this phrase independent of the other terms in § 2314, such as "forged" or "counterfeited." By seeking to exclude from § 2314's scope any security that is "genuine" or valid, Moskal essentially equates "falsely made" with "forged" or "counterfeited."
Our conclusion that "falsely made" encompasses genuine documents containing false information is supported by Congress' purpose in enacting § 2314. Inspired by the proliferation of interstate schemes for passing counterfeit securities, see 84 Cong. Rec. 9412 (statement of Sen. O'Mahoney), Congress in 1939 added the clause pertaining to "falsely made, forged, altered or counterfeited securities" as an amendment to the National Stolen Property Act. 53 Stat. 1178. Our prior decisions have recognized Congress' "general intent" and "broad purpose" to curb the type of trafficking in fraudulent securities that often depends for its success on the exploitation of interstate commerce. In United States v. Sheridan, 329 U.S. 379 (1946), we explained that Congress enacted the relevant clause of § 2314
We think that "title-washing" operations are a perfect example of the "further frauds" that Congress sought to halt in enacting § 2314. As Moskal concedes, his title-washing scheme is a clear instance of fraud involving securities. And
Moskal draws a different conclusion from this legislative history. Seizing upon the references to counterfeit securities, petitioner finds no evidence that "the 1939 amendment had anything at all to do with odometer rollback schemes." Reply Brief for Petitioner 6. We think petitioner misconceives the inquiry into legislative purpose by failing to recognize that Congress sought to attack a category of fraud. At the time that Congress amended the National Stolen Property Act, counterfeited securities no doubt constituted (and may still constitute) the most prevalent form of such interstate fraud. The fact remains, however, that Congress did not limit the statute's reach to "counterfeit securities" but instead chose the broader phrase "falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited securities," which was consistent with its purpose to reach a class of frauds that exploited interstate commerce.
This Court has never required that every permissible application of a statute be expressly referred to in its legislative history. Thus, for example, in United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576 (1981), we recognized that "the major purpose" of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute was "to address the infiltration of legitimate business by organized crime." Id., at 591. Yet, we concluded from the statute's broad language and legislative purpose that the key term "enterprise" must include not only legitimate businesses but also criminal associations. Ibid.; see also United States v. Naftalin, 441 U.S. 768, 775 (1979) (Securities Act of 1933 covers fraud against brokers as well as investors, since "neither this Court nor Congress has ever suggested that investor protection was the sole purpose of [that] Act" (emphasis in original)).
Our precedents concerning § 2314 specifically reject constructions of the statute that limit it to instances of fraud
In McElroy v. United States, supra, we similarly rejected a narrow construction of § 2314. The defendant used blank checks that had been stolen in Ohio to buy a car and a boat in Pennsylvania. Defendant conceded that the checks he had thus misused constituted "forged securities" but maintained his innocence under the federal statute because the checks were not yet forged when they were transported across state boundaries. The Court acknowledged that "Congress could have written the statute to produce this result," id., at 656, but rejected such a reading as inconsistent with Congress' "broad purpose" since it would permit "a patient forger easily [to] evade the reach of federal law," id., at 655. Moreover, because we found the defendant's interpretation to be contradicted
Thus, in both Sheridan and McElroy, defendants who admittedly circulated fraudulent securities among several States sought to avoid liability by offering a reading of § 2314 that was narrower than the scope of its language and of Congress' intent, and in each instance we rejected the proffered interpretation. Moskal's interpretation in the present case rests on a similarly cramped reading of the statute's words, and we think it should likewise be rejected as inconsistent with Congress' general purpose to combat interstate fraud. "[F]ederal criminal statutes that are intended to fill a void in local law enforcement should be construed broadly." Bell v. United States, 462 U.S. 356, 362 (1983) (STEVENS, J., dissenting) (citation omitted).
Petitioner contends that such a reading of § 2314 is nonetheless precluded by a further principle of statutory construction. "[W]here a federal criminal statute uses a common-law term of established meaning without otherwise defining it, the general practice is to give that term its common-law meaning." United States v. Turley, 352 U.S. 407, 411 (1957). Petitioner argues that, at the time Congress enacted the relevant clause of § 2314, the term "falsely made" had an established common-law meaning equivalent to forgery. As so defined, "falsely made" excluded authentic or genuine documents that were merely false in content. Petitioner maintains that Congress should be presumed to have adopted this common-law definition when it amended the National Stolen Property Act in 1939 and that § 2314 therefore should be deemed not to cover washed vehicle titles that merely contain false odometer readings. We disagree for two reasons.
But the Wentworth view—that "falsely made" excluded documents "genuinely" issued by the person purporting to make them and false only in content —was not universal. For example, in United States v. Hartman, 65 F. 490 (ED Mo. 1894), the defendant procured a "notary certificate" containing falsehoods. Finding that this conduct fell within the conduct proscribed by a statute barring certain falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited writings, the judge stated:
See also Annot., Genuine Making of Instrument for Purpose of Defrauding as Constituting Forgery, 41 A. L. R. 229, 247 (1926).
This plurality of definitions of "falsely made" substantially undermines Moskal's reliance on the "common-law meaning" principle. That rule of construction, after all, presumes simply that Congress accepted the one meaning for an undefined statutory term that prevailed at common law. Where, however, no fixed usage existed at common law, we think it more appropriate to inquire which of the common-law readings of the term best accords with the overall purposes of the statute
Our second reason for rejecting Moskal's reliance on the "common-law meaning" rule is that, as this Court has previously recognized, Congress' general purpose in enacting a law may prevail over this rule of statutory construction. In Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990), we confronted the question whether "burglary," when used in a sentence enhancement statute, was intended to take its common-law meaning. We declined to apply the "common-law meaning" rule, in part, because the common-law meaning of burglary was inconsistent with congressional purpose. "The arcane distinctions embedded in the common-law definition [of burglary]," we noted, "have little relevance to modern law-enforcement concerns." Id., at 593 (footnote omitted). See also Bell v. United States, 462 U.S. 356, 360-361 (1983) (declining to apply the common-law meaning of "takes and carries away" as inconsistent with other provisions of the Bank Robbery Act).
We reach a similar conclusion here. The position of those common-law courts that defined "falsely made" to exclude documents that are false only in content does not accord with Congress' broad purpose in enacting § 2314—namely, to criminalize trafficking in fraudulent securities that exploits interstate commerce. We conclude, then, that it is far more likely that Congress adopted the common-law view of "falsely
Finally, Moskal offers two policy arguments for narrowly construing "falsely made." First, noting that thousands of automobile titles are "washed" every year, petitioner argues that "to invalidate all of these automobile titles because they contain an incorrect mileage figure may well result in havoc in the stream of automobile commerce." Brief for Petitioner 19 (emphasis added). Even if we were inclined to credit this concern as a reason for narrowing the statute, the argument—so far as we can discern—rests on a faulty premise. There is no evidence in the record to suggest that States will deem washed titles automatically invalid simply because federal law punishes those responsible for introducing such fraudulent securities into the streams of commerce.
Secondly, Moskal suggests that construing "falsely made" to apply to securities that contain false information will criminalize a broad range of "innocent" conduct. This contention, too, is unfounded. A person who transports such a security in interstate commerce violates § 2314 only if he does so with unlawful or fraudulent intent and if the false information is itself material.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the decision of the Court of Appeals is
JUSTICE SOUTER took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
Today's opinion succeeds in its stated objective of "resolv[ing] a divergence of opinion among the Courts of Appeals," ante, at 106, regarding the application of 18 U. S. C. § 2314. It does that, however, in a manner that so undermines generally applicable principles of statutory construction that I fear the confusion it produces will far exceed the confusion it has removed.
The Court's decision rests ultimately upon the proposition that, pursuant to "ordinary meaning," a "falsely made" document includes a document which is genuinely what it purports to be, but which contains information that the maker knows to be false, or even information that the maker does not know to be false but that someone who causes him to insert it knows to be false. It seems to me that such a meaning is quite extra-ordinary. Surely the adverb preceding the word "made" naturally refers to the manner of making, rather than to the nature of the product made. An inexpensively made painting is not the same as an inexpensive painting. A forged memorandum is "falsely made"; a memorandum that contains erroneous information is simply "false."
One would not expect general-usage dictionaries to have a separate entry for "falsely made," but some of them do use precisely the phrase "to make falsely" to define "forged." See, e. g., Webster's New International Dictionary 990 (2d ed. 1945); Webster's Third New International Dictionary 891 (1961). The Court seeks to make its interpretation plausible by the following locution: "Such titles are `falsely made' in the sense that they are made to contain false, or incorrect, information." Ante, at 109. This sort of wordplay can transform virtually anything into "falsely made." Thus: "The building was falsely made in the sense that it was made to
That "falsely made" refers to the manner of making is also evident from the fifth clause of § 2314, which forbids the interstate transportation of "any tool, implement, or thing used or fitted to be used in falsely making, forging, altering, or counterfeiting any security or tax stamps." This obviously refers to the tools of counterfeiting, and not to the tools of misrepresentation.
The Court maintains, however, that giving "falsely made" what I consider to be its ordinary meaning would render the term superfluous, offending the principle of construction that if possible each word should be given some effect. United States v. Menasche, 348 U.S. 528, 538-539 (1955). The principle is sound, but its limitation ("if possible") must be observed. It should not be used to distort ordinary meaning. Nor should it be applied to the obvious instances of iteration to which lawyers, alas, are particularly addicted—such as "give, grant, bargain, sell, and convey," "aver and affirm," "rest, residue, and remainder," or "right, title, and interest." See generally B. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 197-200 (1987). The phrase at issue here, "falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited," is, in one respect at least, uncontestedly of that sort. As the United States conceded at oral argument, and as any dictionary will confirm, "forged" and "counterfeited" mean the same thing. See, e. g., Webster's 2d, supra, at 607 (defining to "counterfeit" as to "forge," and listing "forged" as a synonym of the adjective "counterfeit"), id., at 990 (defining to "forge" as to "counterfeit," and listing "counterfeit" as a synonym of "forge"). Since iteration is obviously afoot in the relevant passage, there is no justification for extruding an unnatural meaning out of "falsely made" simply in order to avoid iteration. The entire phrase "falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited" is self-evidently not a listing of differing and precisely
Even on the basis of a layman's understanding, therefore, I think today's opinion in error. But in declaring that understanding to be the governing criterion, rather than the specialized legal meaning that the term "falsely made" has long possessed, the Court makes a mistake of greater consequence. The rigid and unrealistic standard it prescribes for establishing a specialized legal meaning, and the justification it announces for ignoring such a meaning, will adversely affect many future cases.
The Court acknowledges, as it must, the doctrine that when a statute employs a term with a specialized legal meaning relevant to the matter at hand, that meaning governs. As Justice Jackson explained for the Court in Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 263 (1952):
Or as Justice Frankfurter more poetically put it: "[I]f a word is obviously transplanted from another legal source, whether the common law or other legislation, it brings its soil with it." Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L. Rev. 527, 537 (1947).
We have such an obvious transplant before us here. Both Black's Law Dictionary and Ballentine's Law Dictionary contain a definition of the term "false making." The former reads as follows:
Ballentine's is to the same effect. See Ballentine's Law Dictionary 486 (2d ed. 1948). "Falsely made" is, in other words, a term laden with meaning in the common law, because it describes an essential element of the crime of forgery. Blackstone defined forgery as "the fraudulent making or alteration of a writing to the prejudice of another man's right." 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries 245 (1769) (emphasis added). The most prominent 19th-century American authority on criminal law wrote that "[f]orgery, at the common law, is the false making or materially altering, with intent to defraud, of any writing which, if genuine, might apparently be of legal efficacy or the foundation of a legal liability." 2 J. Bishop, Criminal Law § 523, p. 288 (5th ed. 1872) (emphasis added). The distinction between "falsity in execution" (or "false making") and "falsity of content" was well understood on both sides of the Atlantic as marking the boundary between forgery and fraud.
In 1939, when the relevant portion of § 2314 was enacted, the States and the Federal Government had been using the "falsely made" terminology for more than a century in their forgery statutes. E. g., Ky. Penal Laws § 22 (1802) ("falsely make, forge or counterfeit"); Ind. Rev. Stat., ch. 53, § 26 (1843) ("falsely make, deface, destroy, alter, forge, or counterfeit"); Del. Rev. Code, ch. 151 (passed 1852) ("falsely make, forge, or counterfeit"). More significantly still, the most common statutory definition of forgery had been a formulation employing precisely the four terms that appear in § 2314: falsely make, alter, forge, and counterfeit. See, e. g., 1 Stat. 115, § 14 ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit") (1790); Act of Feb. 8, 1791, N. H. Const. and Laws, pp. 268-269 (1805) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Md. Acts of 1799, ch. 75 (passed Jan. 3, 1800) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Act of Mar. 15, 1805, § 1, 4 Perpetual Laws of the Commonwealth of Mass. 277 (1807) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Ill. Crim. Code, div. 8, § 73 (1827) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Act of March 8, 1831, §22, 3 Ohio Stat., p. 1726 (1835) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Mo. Rev. Stat., Crimes and Punishments, Art. IV, §§ 15-16 (1835) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Me. Rev. Stat., ch. 157 § 1 et seq. (1840) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Iowa Code, ch. 141 § 2926 (1851) ("falsely make, alter, forge, or counterfeit"); Act of Nov. 25, 1861, Nev. Laws, ch. 28, § 77 (1862) ("falsely make, alter, forge, or counterfeit"); Fla. Rev. Stat., Tit. 2, Art. 7, § 2479 (passed 1868) ("falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits"); Cal. Penal Code, ch. 4, § 470 (passed 1872) ("falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits"); Minn. Gen. Stat., ch. 96, § 1 (1879) ("falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit"); Wyo. Rev. Stat.,
Commentators in 1939 were apparently unanimous in their understanding that "false making" was an element of the crime of forgery, and that the term did not embrace false contents. May's Law of Crimes § 292 (K. Sears & H. Weihofen eds., 4th ed. 1938); W. Clark & W. Marshall, Law of Crimes § 394 (3d ed. 1927); 2 J. Bishop, Criminal Law §§ 523, 582, 582a (9th ed. 1923); 1 H. Brill, Cyclopedia of Criminal Law § 557 (1922). (Contemporary commentators remain unanimous that falsity of content does not establish forgery. See, e. g., R. Perkins & R. Boyce, Criminal Law 418-420 (3d ed. 1982); 4 C. Torcia, Wharton's Criminal Law 130-132 (14th ed. 1981); W. Lafave & A. Scott, Criminal Law 671 (1972).) An American Jurisprudence annotation published in 1939 said:
It also said:
Unsurprisingly, in light of the foregoing discussion, the lower federal courts that interpreted this language of § 2314 for more than two decades after its passage uniformly rejected the Government's position that a genuine document could be "falsely made" because it contained false information. Melvin v. United States, 316 F.2d 647, 648 (CA7 1963); Marteney v. United States, 216 F.2d 760 (CA10 1954); Martyn v. United States, 176 F.2d 609, 610 (CA8 1949); Wright v. United States, 172 F.2d 310, 312 (CA9 1949); Greathouse v. United States, 170 F.2d 512, 514 (CA4 1948).
The United States correctly points out that a number of later cases hold to the contrary. Neither it nor the Court observes, however, that the earlier line of authority bears the endorsement of this Court. In Gilbert v. United States, 370 U.S. 650 (1962), a case involving a statute very similar to § 2314, we approvingly cited Greathouse, Wright, and Marteney, supra, for the proposition that "cases construing `forge' under other federal statutes have generally drawn a distinction between false or fraudulent statements and spurious or fictitious makings." 370 U. S., at 658. And we quoted Marteney for the principle that "[w]here the `falsity lies in the representation of facts, not in the genuineness of execution,' it is not forgery." 370 U. S., at 658, quoting Marteney, supra, at 763-764. As I shall proceed to explain, Gilbert's approval of these cases' interpretation of "forge" necessarily includes an approval of their interpretation of "false making" as well. Moreover, the very holding of Gilbert is incompatible with the Court's decision today.
The indictment in Gilbert charged that the checks had been "forged," and so it was only that term, and not the totality of § 495, that the Court specifically addressed. It is plain from the opinion, however, that the Court understood "false making" (as I do) to be merely a recitation of the central element of forgery. Indeed, that is the whole basis for the decision. Thus, the Court's discussion of the common-law meaning of "forges" begins as follows:
It later quotes the same case to the following effect:
The whole rationale of the Gilbert decision, in other words, was that inserting fraudulent content could not constitute "forgery" because "forgery" requires "false making." It is utterly incompatible with that rationale to hold, as the Court does today, that inserting fraudulent content constitutes "false making."
The Court acknowledges the principle that common-law terms ought to be given their established common-law meanings, but asserts that the principle is inapplicable here because the meaning of "falsely made" I have described above "was not universal." Ante, at 115. For support it cites three cases and an A. L. R. annotation. The annotation itself says that one of the three cases, United States v. Hartman, 65 F. 490 (ED Mo. 1894), "has generally been disapproved, and has not been followed." Annot., 41 A. L. R. 229, 249 (1926). (That general disapproval, incidentally, was implicitly endorsed by this Court itself in Gilbert, which interpreted the direct descendant of the statute involved in Hartman.) The other two cases cited by the Court are not mentioned by the annotation, and rightly so, since they discuss not falsity of content but genuineness of the instrument.
The Court's second reason for refusing to give "falsely made" its common-law meaning is that "Congress' general purpose in enacting a law may prevail over this rule of statutory construction." Ante, at 117. That is undoubtedly true in the sense that an explicitly stated statutory purpose that contradicts a common-law meaning (and that accords with another, "ordinary" meaning of the contested term) will prevail. The Court, however, means something quite different. What displaces normal principles of construction here, according to the Court, is "Congress' broad purpose in enacting § 2314—namely, to criminalize trafficking in fraudulent securities that exploits interstate commerce." Ibid. But that analysis does not rely upon any explicit language, and is simply question-begging. The whole issue before us here is
The "Congress' broad purpose" approach is not supported by the authorities the Court cites.
We should have rejected the argument in precisely those terms today. Instead, the Court adopts a new principle that can accurately be described as follows: "Where a term of art has a plain meaning, the Court will divine the statute's purpose and substitute a meaning more appropriate to that purpose."
I feel constrained to mention, though it is surely superfluous for decision of the present case, the so-called rule of lenity—the venerable principle that "before a man can be punished as a criminal under the federal law his case must be plainly and unmistakably within the provisions of some statute." United States v. Gradwell, 243 U.S. 476, 485 (1917) (internal quotation marks omitted). See also McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350, 359-360 (1987). As JUSTICE MARSHALL explained some years ago:
For the foregoing reasons, I respectfully dissent.
"Whoever, with unlawful or fraudulent intent, transports in interstate or foreign commerce any falsely made, forged, altered, or counterfeited securities or tax stamps, knowing the same to have been falsely made, forged altered, or counterfeited;
. . . . .
"Shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
For purposes of § 2314, "securities" are defined to include any "valid . . . motor vehicle title." § 2311.
In State v. Shurtliff, 18 Me. 368 (1841), the defendant had procured a signature upon a deed by misrepresenting the nature of the document signed (the deed did not contain false information). The court held that such conduct was forgery, because the resulting deed was a "false instrument," "purport[ing] to be the solemn and voluntary act of the grantor," which it was not. Id., at 371.
These decisions perhaps stretch the concept of what constitutes a non-genuine instrument, but neither purports to hold that the insertion of fraudulent content constitutes "false making" or forgery.