Although the exact penalty for a crime varies based on the actual offense and the state where the crime occurs, forgery is punishable by prison time, probation, fines and restitution. If the act is considered a misdemeanor, the punishment is less severe than if the forgery is deemed a felony.
As noted by CriminalDefenseLawyer.com, forgeries of financial documents are generally punished the most severely. This includes checks, bonds, securities, wills and documents involving the exchange of property. The more money that is at stake, the harsher the punishment will be. For example, someone who forges a signature on a $100 check will receiver a lighter sentence than someone who fakes the signature on a $10,000 financial document.