New York Forgery Charges Explained
Getting charged with forgery in New York can be scary. I’m here to walk you through what these charges mean, so you can understand the situation better.
Forgery basically means falsifying or altering a document to defraud someone. There are a few different forgery crimes in New York:
Forgery in the Third Degree
This is the least serious forgery charge. It happens when you alter or falsify a written document to injure, defraud or deceive someone. It’s a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
- Altering a signature on a contract
- Making a fake doctor’s note
- Changing your grade on a report card
Not the worst crimes, but still illegal!
Forgery in the Second Degree
This charge is more serious – it’s a felony. It means forging one of these important documents:
- Legal contracts
- Credit cards
- Public records
So forging your friend’s signature on a car loan? Felony.
Doctoring a prescription to get more pills? Felony.
Changing your income on a tax form? You get the idea.
The penalty can be up to four years in prison. Yikes!
Forgery in the First Degree
This is the most serious forgery charge in New York. It means forging:
- Government bonds
- Stock certificates
Anything that messes with major financial instruments, really.
Even if it’s your first offense, it carries up to 15 years in prison!
So don’t go printing your own $20 bills or forging a Google stock certificate as a prank.
Not worth it.
Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument
This is a separate crime from forgery.
It means having a forged document in your possession and knowing it’s forged. Like:
- Having a fake ID in your wallet
- Having counterfeit bills in your house
- Having forged checks or credit cards
It doesn’t matter if you forged it yourself or not. Just possessing it is illegal if you know it’s forged.
The penalty depends on what document it is, but can be up to 15 years in prison just like forgery.
What Are Some Defenses?
If you’ve been accused of forgery, don’t panic. There may be defenses your lawyer can use:
- You didn’t actually forge anything – someone else did
- You didn’t know the document was forged
- You had no intent to defraud anyone
- The document doesn’t meet the technical definition of “forgery”
- There are issues with the evidence against you
A good lawyer will look at the facts of your specific case and figure out the best defense. Don’t admit to anything until you talk to a lawyer!
What Should You Do if Charged?
If you’re charged with any kind of forgery, here are the steps to take:
- Don’t say anything to the police – invoke your right to remain silent
- Politely decline to answer any questions without a lawyer
- Contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately
- Listen to your lawyer’s advice – they know how to build the best defense
- Don’t post about your case on social media