New York Forgery Defense Lawyer
In New York, the crime of Forgery is codified at New York Penal Law 170, et seq. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, forgery can range from a misdemeanor to a felony charge carrying serious fines and prison time. If you have been arrested on charges of forgery, our forgery defense attorneys at Dupée & Monroe can help you put together your strongest defense in order to mitigate your charges or have them dropped entirely.
Elements of Forgery in New York
The base crime of forgery, called forgery in the third degree, requires that the defendant:
- With the intent to defraud, deceive, or injure another,
- Falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument
The law defines “written instrument” as essentially any writing, including computer data or a computer program, that is used for the purpose of conveying information or constituting evidence of value (such as money or stock certificates), right (such as a contract), or identification (such as a driver’s license), that is capable of being used to the advantage or disadvantage of some person.
Forgery can be accomplished by making something fake entirely or by altering an existing writing to somehow gain an inappropriate advantage. The law is intentionally broad as to the means of forgery, but concrete examples make it more clear. Some common types of forgery in New York include:
- Fabricating or altering a driver’s license
- Forging a will
- Altering a credit card
- Creating or possessing a fake taxi license or falsified vehicle I.D. number
- Altering or faking a handicapped parking permit
The crime of forgery includes not only the person who makes a forged document, but also anyone who knowingly possesses a forged document.
Defending Against a Charge of Forgery
Intent is a major element of forgery, and demonstrating lack of intent to defraud is a strong defense against any forgery charge. Particularly for possession charges, a defendant can also argue that they did not know a document was forged. Additionally, a defendant may defend against charges of forgery by demonstrating a lack of mental capacity such that they could not understand the legal significance of the document at issue. The law on forgery is complex, and anyone facing forgery charges should immediately contact a dedicated New York criminal defense attorney.
Degrees of Forgery and Punishment
Forgery ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the seriousness of the offense. Forgery in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a one-year prison sentence. If someone is guilty of third-degree forgery and certain additional elements are present, then the defendant may be charged with a more serious offense.
Forgery in the second degree is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of either $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain from the forgery. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree is also a class D felony. Second-degree forgery is triggered if the documents involved were:
- A will, commercial contract, credit card, or other document that bestows or affects a legal right;
- A public record;
- A government document;
- Part of an issue of tokens designed to be symbols of value in place of money (g., a subway card); OR
- A prescription from a physician, dentist, or anyone else authorized to issue a drug prescription.
Forgery in the first degree is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of either $5,000 or double the defendant’s gain from the forgery. Forgery in the first is triggered where the forged documents are either:
- Money, stamps, securities, or other government-issued instruments of value; OR
- Stocks, bonds, or other instruments representing interest in or claims against a corporation or some other organization.
Help is Available for Forgery Charges from Our Hudson Valley Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with forgery under New York state law, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C. for a forgery defense lawyer in Goshen. We represent clients charged with forgery and other serious offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.