Tampering with public records in New York is a serious crime that can result in severe legal consequences. Public records serve as the official documentation of government actions, and any alteration or falsification of these records can undermine the trust and integrity of government institutions. Tampering with public records can take various forms, such as changing the content of a public record, forging a signature, or intentionally destroying or concealing public records. In this article, we will explore the different types of tampering with public records in New York, the potential legal consequences of such actions, and the importance of preserving the integrity of public records.
A “small” crime does not exist in New York, or anyplace else for that matter. No matter the level of the offense—misdemeanor or felony—the consequences will last the rest of your life. Individuals who believe that fraud or white-collar crimes are distinct in this regard are categorically mistaken.
In our experience as legal writers, we have seen how persons accused of white-collar crimes must deal with the severe repercussions of an arrest, an indictment, and a conviction. Tampering with Public Records in the First Degree (New York Criminal Code 175.25) and Tampering with Public Records in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 175.26) are two such crimes that are not exempt from these direct and indirect repercussions (New York Penal Law 175.20).
Tampering with a Public Document is a distinct offense with its own potential penalties despite being quite similar to the offenses of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. An arrest, indictment, and conviction for NY PL 175.25 are much more serious than the NY PL 175.20, which is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail (Rikers Island or the Westchester County Jail, for example). This latter offense carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence as a felony.
Although the specifics of each charge related to tampering with public records are covered in the corresponding sections above, it is crucial to understand that this crime occurs within a public agency rather than a private company. Tampering with Public Records, in contrast to providing a Fake Instrument for Filing, frequently entails an inside party altering or fabricating a document and submitting it to a government agency knowing that it would become a public record. But, it is crucial to remember that your crime will be upgraded to a felony conviction if you have the intent to defraud (this intent need not be to acquire money).
When being accused of violating NY PL 175.25 and mounting a defense, it is crucial to evaluate this element—or lack thereof. Prosecutors will not have sufficient evidence to seek an indictment for this crime if data are scratched off or altered without this intent. The Assistant District Attorneys will, however, undoubtedly make an effort to prove your intent to defraud by direct or circumstantial evidence in order to provide them the ability to charge the more serious felony due to the difference in the potential punishments between these two degrees.
Depending on the circumstances, an arrest or an indictment may only include charges of tampering with public records. Nonetheless, this felony is typically associated with additional transgressions like, but not limited to:
- Grand Larceny: New York Penal Law Article 155
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: New York Penal Law Article 170
- Forgery: New York Penal Law Article 170
Protect your rights regardless of whether you have previously been detained or questioned by the police or your company. Avoid blaming yourself or making your situation worse by doing so. After all, a conviction or even the appearance of fraud may result in your imprisonment and seriously harm your job and future.