Forgery is a serious offense in New York City and the entire United States. New York Penal Law 170.00 defines forgery as attempting to commit fraud by altering, creating, or completing a written instrument without the authority to do so. The crime is a misdemeanor or a felony in New York City, depending on the circumstances of the case.
What is a Written Instrument?
A written instrument includes written documents, such as a will or a check. But it also includes computer data, computer programs, money, tokens, and personal identification. Any item used to indicate evidence of right, value, or privilege also falls within the New York legal definition of written instrument.
New York’s definition of forgery is purposely expansive. The New York legislature did so to account for new methods of forgery made possible by technological advances. For example, creating, possessing, or using electronic currency such as bitcoin to commit fraud is forgery.
New York courts even count cable TV boxes as a written instrument. In 2006, a defendant was charged with forgery for altering cable TV boxes to receive pay channels without paying for them.
A misdemeanor charge is forgery in the third degree based on New York’s Penal Law. This is a basic forgery charge. But the charge is elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony based on which documents or items were forged.
What is Felony Forgery?
Forgery is a felony in some cases. Forging the following items in New York count as a second degree felony:
1. Public transportation tokens, public transportation transfers, certificates or other items substituted for money to purchase services or property
2. Medical prescriptions for medications, and devices or instruments that administer drugs to the user.
3. Public documents and records legally authorized or required by law.
4. Legal documents created and distributed by government officials or public servants.
5. Credit cards, wills, deeds, commercial documents, contracts, and other items that create, transfer, or affect a person’s status, legal right, obligation, or interest.
Forging the following items in New York count as first degree felony:
1. Stamps, securities, money, and other government-issued instruments of value.
2. Bonds, stocks, and any document that represents a claim or interest in an organization or corporation.
Punishment for Forgery in New York
The punishment for forgery depends on the degree of forgery. The most severe punishment is issued for a first degree charge. Second degree punishment is less harsh than first degree, but more harsh than third degree. The lightest sentence is issued for a third degree misdemeanor charge.
First Degree Forgery – Felony
A first degree forgery conviction results in a possible sentence of no more than 15 years. And a possible fine no higher than $5,000 or double the amount gained by the crime. The person could also receive both a fine and time in prison.
Second Degree Forgery – Felony
A second degree forgery conviction can possibly result in a jail sentence of up to seven years. The person may also receive a fine up to $5,000 or double the amount received during the crime. The courts can also choose to impose both the fine and the prison sentence.
Third Degree Forgery – Misdemeanor
A conviction for third degree forgery can result in up to one year of time in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both a fine and time in jail.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with a New York Forgery Charge
If you’re facing a forgery charge in New York City, it’s time to contact a lawyer. Forgery is a serious crime that can land you in jail. Contact the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC to get the help you need.
Our dedicated criminal defense lawyers provide high-quality representation for every client and every case. Our goal is to protect your legal rights and provide the best defense solution for your case.