New York Forgery Laws – All You Need To Know

by ECL Writer
Criminal Possession Of A Forged Instrument Frequently Asked Questions

Forgery is a serious crime that involves the falsification of documents, signatures, or other types of legal instruments with the intent to deceive or defraud. In New York State, forgery is considered a felony offense and is punishable by significant fines and imprisonment. The New York forgery laws are designed to protect individuals and businesses from the harmful effects of fraudulent activities, such as identity theft, financial scams, and other forms of deceit. Understanding the legal definitions and penalties associated with forgery can help individuals and businesses safeguard themselves from potential criminal activities. In this article, will delve into the details of New York forgery laws, including the types of forgery, the penalties for forgery, and the defenses available to those accused of this crime.

What Is Forgery In New York?

Forgery in New York is defined as the act of making or altering a written instrument, such as a document or signature, with the intent to use it to defraud another person and commit the misdemeanor crime of forgery in New York. A written instrument can be any type of document or record, including contracts, deeds, checks, wills, and identification cards.

“Written instrument”

A “written instrument” is anything that can be used to convey information or serve as evidence of worth, right, privilege, or identification and has the potential to either benefit or disadvantage someone. This includes printed material, computer data or programs, money, tokens, or anything else.

The Assembly of New York specifically intended for this term to be very broad. According to its provisions, forgery would be committed by anybody who willfully generates, owns, or attempts to use bitcoin or another kind of electronic money with the intention of defrauding someone else. In fact, New York courts have interpreted this meaning of “written instrument” broadly enough to include modified cable TV boxes that are receiving channels that the owner hasn’t paid for or subscribed to!

(N.Y. Penal Law § 170.00.)

Felony forgery

For specific categories of counterfeit goods, forgery is a criminal offense. Forgery in the second degree is prohibited for the following items:

Forgery is a felony crime for certain types of counterfeit items. Forgery of the following items is felony forgery in the second degree:

  • deeds, wills, contracts, commercial instruments, credit cards, or other instruments that may evidence, create, transfer or otherwise affect a legal right, interest, obligation, or status
  • public records or documents required or authorized by law
  • official instruments issued or created by a public or governmental office or public servant
  • tokens, public transportation transfers, certificates or other items designed for use in place of money for the purchase of property or services, or
  • medical prescriptions for drugs or any device or instrument used to administer drugs.

(N.Y. Penal Law § 170.10.)

Forgery of the following items is felony forgery in the first degree:

  • currency, stamps, securities, or other valuable instruments issued by the government, or
  • stocks, bonds, or other instruments representing an interest in or claim against a corporation or other organization.

(N.Y. Penal Law § 170.15.)

Degrees Of Forgery In New York

Forgery in the first degree

Forgery in the First Degree is without a doubt the highest and most serious crime in the category of forgery offenses in New York. The associated sentence for this “D” felony forgery charge is significantly longer than the sentences for forgery in the second and third degrees. None exists? Not a criminal record? not previously detained in New York or elsewhere? That is irrelevant from the perspective of the law.

If you falsely create, finish, or change a written document with the aim to mislead or deceive another person, you are guilty of First Degree Forgery, NY PL 170.15, or any degree of Forgery. The written document must claim to be or represent one of the following in order to fall under one of the different categories of forgery recognized in New York:

  1. Part of an issue of money, stamps, securities, or other valuables; or
  2. Part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporate or other organization or its property.

Falsifying or forging US currency is one of the more frequent forms of first-degree forgery, though it is not the only one encountered by criminal defense lawyers and forgery attorneys in New York.

Forgery in the second degree

Examining Forgery in the Third Degree first can help you grasp Second Degree Forgery in New York much more simply. Once you have that basis, you can build New York Criminal Code 170.10, Forgery in the Second Degree, by adding particular written instruments. However, despite how simple it may appear, it will be difficult for you, a defendant under investigation for or charged with second-degree forgery, to comprehend this offense and your arrest charges.

The same is actually true if you’re a lawyer who doesn’t frequently represent clients accused of forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument. Be aware that a first-time offender could receive up to four years in prison if found guilty of one count of NY PL 170.10 if they choose to fight a felony forgery arrest or allegation with limited knowledge or with counsel who is not knowledgeable in the legal and practical applications and defense to this fraud crime.

You can only be found guilty of breaking New York Penal Law 170.10 if you intended to harm, swindle, or deceive another person. This is similar to the less serious but potentially crippling sister crime of Forgery in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 170.05. Also, you must falsely create, finish, or modify a written instrument with this intention. But, these written documents are of a more particular kind than those discovered in the misdemeanor offense. These writings must truly be, or purport to be, what follows:

  • A deed, will codicil, contract, assignment, commercial instrument, credit card, or other instruments which does or may evidence, create, transfer or terminate or otherwise affect a legal status, right, interest, or obligation. Reading this definition should make it overwhelmingly clear that many items fall into this subsection. As a result, many Second Degree Forgery crimes are prosecuted pursuant to this theory.
  • A public record or an instrument filed or required or authorized by law to be filed in or with a public office or public servant.
  • A written instrument officially issued or created by a public office, public servant, or governmental instrumentality.
  • Part of an issue of tokens, public transportation transfers, certificates, or other articles manufactured and designed for use as symbols of valuable usable in place of money or the purchase of property or services. An example under this section of Second Degree Forgery may include a Metro Card.
  • A prescription of a duly licensed physician or other person authorized to issue the same for any drug. Not limited to the following example, forging the name of a physician, drafting a fake prescription pad or even altering the number or amount of a particular drug would violate this subsection of Forgery in the Second Degree.

It is important to remember that several violations of Criminal Law may be based on the same written document in a PL 170.10 case. In turn, this means that if you fake a passport from the US, the PRC, or even a driver’s license from any state, you may be breaking more than one law at once, such NY PL 170.10(1) and NY PL 170.10, for example (2). Although while the punishment you would receive wouldn’t be consecutive if it resulted from the same written document, it offers the prosecution more opportunities to prove their case.

Forgery in the third degree

Fraudulently sign a receipt at CVS or Duane Reade for a $20.00 item in someone else’s name? You can be guilty of forgery in the third degree. Do you scratch your birthdate off your driver’s license? You might be guilty of third-degree forgery. For a job, would you change the grades on your transcript? It’s possible that you broke New York Penal Code 170.05. In fact, depending on the type of written instrument you are accused of forging, you may be charged with a more serious felony offense in addition to Third Degree Forgery if you change or fabricate any written instrument.

If you falsely make, finish, or amend a written instrument with the aim to defraud, deceive, or harm another person, you are in violation of NY PL 170.05, according to the New York Penal Law.

Forgery Punishment In New York

Depending on the level of forgery for which the defendant is found guilty in New York, there may be a penalty.

First-degree felony forgery

In New York, first-degree forgery is a Class C felony offense. If found guilty of first-degree forgery, the offender risks a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, a maximum fine of $5,000, or treble their profits from the forgery, or both prison and fine. (N.Y. Penal Law § § 170.15, 70.00, 80.00.)

Second-degree felony forgery

In New York, second-degree forgery is a Class D felony offense. If found guilty of second-degree forgery, the offender risks a maximum seven-year jail term, a fine that cannot exceed $5,000 or double their profits from the forgery, or both. (N.Y. Penal Law § § 170.10, 70.00, 80.00.)

Third-degree misdemeanor forgery

In New York, third-degree forgery is a Class A misdemeanor offense. A third-degree forgery conviction carries a maximum term of one year in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. (N.Y. Penal Law § § 170.05, 70.15, 80.05.)

Defense For Forgery In New York

Forgery is a serious offense in New York, and a person who is convicted of forgery can face severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record. However, in some cases, a person may have a defense against forgery charges. In this article, we will discuss some of the defenses for forgery in New York.

One of the most common defenses for forgery is lack of intent. To be convicted of forgery, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intent to defraud or deceive someone by creating or altering a document. If the defendant can show that they did not have the intent to defraud, they may be able to avoid conviction. For example, if someone accidentally signs a document they thought was a blank piece of paper, they did not have the intent to commit forgery.

Another possible defense for forgery is mistake or ignorance. If the defendant can show that they did not know that the document they were creating or altering was fraudulent, they may be able to avoid conviction. For example, if someone unknowingly uses a counterfeit bill to pay for goods or services, they did not commit forgery.

A third possible defense for forgery is consent. If the defendant can show that the person whose signature they forged or document they altered gave them permission to do so, they may be able to avoid conviction. For example, if someone forges a signature on a document at the request of the person whose signature is being forged, they may be able to argue that they had consent to do so.

Finally, a defendant may be able to argue that they were coerced or forced to commit forgery.

Hire A Lawyer

In New York, forgery is a serious offense that carries a potential prison sentence. Speak with a local criminal defense lawyer in your area if you have questions regarding the offense or have been accused of forgery.

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