The legal definition of forgery is a broad term that covers a range of criminal charges involving the intentional falsification of information on documents or records. A forgery conviction can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specific charges brought against you.
The judicial system does not treat forgery charges lightly, which is why it’s essential to prepare your case well in advance with the assistance of an experienced defense attorney. The professional attorneys at Raiser & Kenniff can help you build a good case to defend yourself from charges that could have life-altering consequences in the years ahead.
The Three Degrees of Forgery
While all types of forgery charges carry serious penalties, there is a significant difference between the three degrees. A person can be charged with third degree forgery if they falsely make, complete or change a written document with the intent of defrauding, harming or deceiving another party. This type of offense is considered a class A misdemeanor and carries a punishment appropriate for the classification.
Forgery charges are elevated to the second degree when the individual is accused of making such alterations to certain types of legal documents, including deeds, wills, contracts, licenses and public records. Falsifying a prescription from a doctor or other medical professional also falls into this category. Individuals convicted of second degree forgery face the punishments associated with a class D felony.
As a class C felony, first degree forgery carries the harshest penalties of the three types. A person can be charged with forgery of the first degree if they falsify or alter documents related to money, stamps, stock, bonds or other financial instruments. Individuals charged with any type of forgery may also face related charges under Article 179 of the New York Penal Law code, including possession of a forged instrument and criminal simulation.
Defending Against Forgery Charges
Since forgery law encompasses a wide range of activity, there are several avenues of defense that your attorney can help you pursue. Individuals who are suffering from a mental illness or similar debilitating disorder can use their disability as a defense. Also, children under the age of 16 may also be able to avoid conviction based on grounds of infancy.
Individuals may also be in possession of a forged document or unintentionally provide false information, which are both defensible positions. You can fight the charges by proving that you did not intend to defraud, deceive or harm another individual through your actions, or if you were not aware that the document had been forged at all. Matters of intention require careful planning and research to properly defend, which is why you should contact Raiser & Kenniff right away to discuss your options.
Fight Forgery Charges with Expert Trial Attorneys
If you are facing charges of forgery in the first, second or third degree, you need the assistance of a professional legal expert to guide you through the process. Our team of lawyers is made up of experienced and seasoned attorneys who know the system inside and out. Founded by attorneys who have worked on both sides of the court room, you can trust Raiser & Kenniff to handle your case magnificently. Give us a call to learn more about our firm and how we can help you overcome your current legal challenges.
NY Penal Law 170 Forgery
In today’s post we’ll be looking at various charges in relation to forgery. As with all of the other sections, we’re going to first define the terms so that we can get a better understanding of what’s involved in forgery before tackling the charges themselves.
Forgery; definitions of terms.
First we have written instrument. This is basically any instrument or article including data or a computer program that’s used in order to recite or otherwise record information or constituting a symbol of value, which can be used either to the advantage or disadvantage of someone.
A complete written instrument is one that seems like a genuine written instrument with respect to every feature. In this case, an endorsement or statement is considered a complete written instrument in itself.
An incomplete written statement is one that contains something in regards to content or authentication but requires something more to make it a complete written instrument.
A forged instrument is a written instrument that’s been falsely made.
And lastly, an electronic access device is a mobile ID number that can be used to receive telephone service.
Forgery in the third degree
Now that we’ve covered the terms involved, let’s get into charges, starting with forgery in the third degree. You’re guilty of this charge when you falsely make or alter a written instrument with the intent to deceive someone. This one is a class A misdemeanor.
Forgery in the second degree.
Forgery in the second degree is a little more complicated. This is when you forge something just as we described in the last section, but then the document involved is a deed, will, contract, or something similar that affects a legal right, or a public record, or a written instrument that’s been officially issued or created by some kind of public office. Forgery in the second degree is considered a class D felony.
Forgery in the first degree.
Now we’ve come to the most serious degree when it comes to forgery: the first degree. This is charged when you forge a document that’s part of an issue of money or other valuable instruments that’s issued by the government, or if it’s part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other kinds of instruments that represent interests in or claims against a corporate organization or its property. This crime is punished as a class C felony.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree.
Now that we’ve covered actually forging something, we’re going to get into possessing something that’s been forged. You’re guilty of this if you possess some kind of forged instrument with the knowledge that it’s been forged. This crime is punished as a class A misdemeanor.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.
Same thing for this charge, but it’s punished when you possess a document that you’d be charged for under forgery in the second degree. This one is a class D felony.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree; presumption.
Just to be clear: anyone who possesses two or more forged instruments is presumed to possess these with the knowledge that they’re forged, and with the intent to defraud someone else.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the first degree.
For this charge, you’d be guilty if you possessed an instrument that would be punishable as forgery in the first degree. This crime is a class C felony.
Criminal possession of a forged instrument; no defense.
It’s no defense in this case that the defendant either forged or participated in the forgery with respect to the same instrument.
Criminal possession of forgery devices.
If you make any sort of equipment that’s designed for counterfeiting, or intend to use the same for the purpose of forgery, you’re guilty of criminal possession of forgery devices. This is punishable as a class D felony.
As far as criminal simulation goes, you’re guilty of this if you make or alter something to appear to be an antique when it’s not, or possess this kind of object, all with the intent to defraud. This is a class A misdemeanor.
Criminal possession of an anti-security item.
You’re guilty of this crime when you possess a device that’s been designed to bypass security systems with the intent to steal property. This is punished as a class B misdemeanor.
Unlawfully using slugs; definitions of terms.
Now that we’re getting into unlawfully using slugs, we’re going to have to define some terms before we get into charges.
First of all, a coin machine is some sort of coin box, vending machine, or other device that’s meant to take a token and provide some property or service.
Slug basically means an object or article that can be inserted into a coin machine as a substitute for a genuine coin or token.
The value of a slug means the value of the coin or token that it can be substituted for.
Unlawfully using slugs in the second degree.
Now that we’ve gotten the definitions down, it’s time to get into the charges. You’re guilty of this crime when you insert a slug with the intent to defraud the coin machine’s owner, or if you make such a slug. This crime is punished as a class B misdemeanor.
Unlawfully using slugs in the first degree.
For this final charge of unlawfully using slugs, the preceding description applies, with the addition that the value of the slugs exceeds $100. This crime is punishable as a class E felony.
Forgery of a vehicle identification number.
You’re guilty of this crime when you knowingly destroy or otherwise change the form of a vehicle ID number, or if you remove any kind of number from a vehicle, or if you affix a vehicle ID number to a vehicle except in accordance with the law. You’re also guilty of this if you knowingly manufacture a vehicle ID number which wasn’t manufactured in accordance with the law, all with the intent to defraud. This crime is punishable as a class E felony.
Illegal possession of a vehicle identification number.
For this particular crime, you’re guilty when you knowingly possess a sticker or plate that’s been removed from the vehicle, or if you knowingly possess a vehicle or part of a vehicle which has a vehicle ID number attached, or emboss a vehicle ID number that’s been destroyed or otherwise changed, or if you knowingly possess a vehicle or part of a vehicle that needs to have an ID number attached by law. This crime is punished as a class E felony.
Illegal possession of a vehicle identification number; presumptions.
There are a couple of presumptions involved when you’re dealing with something like illegal possession of a vehicle ID number. These are that you’re presumed to knowingly possess a vehicle or part of one in violation of the law when you possess a combination of five of these vehicles or individual parts of vehicles, none of which are attached. Also, you’re presumed to possess a vehicle or part of one when you possess a combination of five whole vehicles or parts, none of which are attached to the same vehicle
Fraudulent making of an electronic access device in the second degree.
Last on our list of charges is fraudulent making of an electronic access device in the second degree. This involves completing or altering two or more electronic access devices with the intent to defraud, and it’s punishable as a class D felony.
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