Signing fraudulent papers

In New York, the crime of forgery is not just a severe offense—it challenges the integrity of our financial and legal systems. Forgery can range from the fabrication of a signature on a check to the alteration of official documents. This act undermines the trust in personal and business transactions and poses a severe threat to the community’s security and order. It is helpful to provide examples of forgeries that might take place to illustrate the crime: 

  • 1) Signing Someone Else’s Name On A Check: If a person signs someone else’s name on a check without authorization and intending to obtain money unlawfully, that person could face forgery charges.
  • 2) Altering A Legal Document: Changing the terms of a legal document, such as a will or a contract, without authorization to benefit from the changes.
  • 3) Creating Fake Identification: Manufacturing or altering identification documents (such as driver’s licenses or passports) to misrepresent one’s age, identity, or legal status.
  • 4) Falsifying Financial Documents: To make or alter financial documents, such as bank statements or tax returns, to deceive individuals, institutions, or government agencies.
  • 5) Counterfeiting Currency: Producing or altering currency to make it appear legitimate money.
  • 6) Art Forgery: Creating or altering an artwork to present it as another artist’s work, typically for financial gain.
  • 7) Forging educational credentials: Creating or altering academic diplomas or certificates to falsely represent one’s scholarly achievements.
  • 8) Fraudulent prescriptions: Creating or altering a medical prescription to unlawfully obtain medication.

Under New York law, each of these above actions can be charged as forgery, depending on the circumstances and the degree of the crime. The crime can range from misdemeanor to felony levels based on factors such as the type of document forged and the intent behind the forgery.

Elements Of Forgery In New York

Forgery in New York involves creating, altering, or using a false document intending to defraud someone. The elements of forgery in New York consist of the following components:

  • Creation Or Alteration: This involves making, completing, altering, or falsifying a written instrument. In legal terms, a “written instrument” can be anything from a contract to a driver’s license to a financial document.
  • Falsity: The document in question must be false, which means it is either entirely fabricated, altered from its original form to represent something it is not, or signed without authorization.
  • Intent to Defraud: This is a critical element. The person committing the forgery must intend to defraud, deceive, or injure another party, which means there must be an intent to cause financial or legal harm through the use of the forged document.
  • Materiality: The document must be of such a nature that its falsification could result in legal or financial consequences. In other words, the forged document must be significant enough to influence someone’s decisions or actions.
  • Possession or Uttering: In many cases, merely creating or altering a forged document cannot constitute forgery. Often, the individual must also pass on (or “utter”) the forged document, acting as if it is genuine, or have the intent to do so.

Categories Of Forgeries In New York

New York categorizes forgery into different degrees based on the type of document involved and the potential harm. For instance, forgery in the third degree, which is the least severe, includes forging any written instrument that does not fall into more serious categories. More severe categories, like forgery in the second or first degree, involve more significant documents or enormous potential impacts, such as government-issued documents or instruments that affect substantial legal rights.

It’s also worth noting that New York State has specific statutes that deal with different types of forgery, including forgery of currency, legal contracts, public records, and other documents. The penalties for forgery can vary significantly based on the degree of the crime, with more serious offenses resulting in more significant penalties.

Under New York Penal Law (sections 170.00 to 170.65), the crime of forgery is categorized into different degrees:

  • Forgery In The Third Degree (NY Penal Law § 170.05): Forgery in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor and involves falsely making, altering, forging, or counterfeiting any written instrument with intent to defraud.
  • Forgery in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law § 170.10): This is a class D felony. It elevates the third-degree offense by specifying types of documents, such as deeds, wills, contracts, commercial instruments, credit cards, and public records.
  • Forgery In The First Degree (NY Penal Law § 170.15): This is a class C felony that involves forging certain types of documents with a higher degree of protection, such as currency, stocks, bonds, and government-issued stamps.

Legal Consequences Of Forgery In New York

The legal consequences of a forgery conviction in New York can vary significantly based on the degree of the charge:

  • For a Class A misdemeanor (third degree): Up to 1 year in jail.
  • For a Class D felony (second degree): Up to 7 years in prison.
  • For a Class C felony (first degree): Up to 15 years in prison.

Moreover, individuals convicted of forgery can also face fines, restitution (compensation for financial losses suffered by the victim), probation, community service, and a permanent criminal record. The exact punishment will vary based on the facts of the case, the value involved, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors.

Defenses To Crime Of Forgery

Defenses against forgery charges can vary widely but may include lack of intent to defraud, duress, incapacity, or the assertion that the document was not actually forged. Legal considerations also involve how the forgery was executed and the defendant’s intent.

Contact Our Forgery Defense Attorney Serving New York & Long Island

If someone is charged with forgery in New York or Long Island, they must consult a skilled criminal defense attorney who can provide advice based on the specifics of their case. The law considers the act of forging, the intention behind it, and the type of document involved. Due to the complexities involved in such cases, you must contact an experienced criminal law attorney in Long Island or throughout the New York Metropolitan area who can powerfully assist you with your defense. Contact Michael A. Arbeit, PC, to help ensure that your rights are protected and that we provide you with a proper defense should you need it.

Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. assists clients throughout Long Island including Nassau County, Suffolk County, Garden City, and New York, including Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and The Bronx.