New York Forgery Laws & Charges + Statute of Limitations

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In the state of New York, any individual who willfully and knowingly possesses, or creates a forged document that suggests liability or value in an attempt to defraud another person or party is guilty of the crime of forgery. Forgery is often considered as a felony-level crime, but it can also be deemed as a misdemeanor in very specific cases.

Forgery is classed as a felony crime in New York when certain type of counterfeit items or documents are involved. For instance, forgery of the following items would be considered as a felony in the second degree:

  • Any medical prescriptions for devices or instruments used to administer drugs, or the drugs themselves
  • Any public transportation transfers, tokens, certificates, or other items that are designed for use for travel in the place of money or the purchase of services or property
  • Any official instruments that are created or issued by a governmental office or public office, or public servant
  • Any public documents, or records as authorized or required by law
  • Any deeds, contracts, wills, commercial instruments, credit cards, or other instruments that may create, transfer, evidence, or otherwise affect a legal interest, obligations, status, or right

On the other hand, forgery that involves the following items is classed as a first-degree felony:

  • Stamps, securities, currencies, or other valuable instruments that may have been originally issued by the government.
  • Bonds stocks, or other instruments that represent interests or claims against another person or organization.

Laws and Penalties

Forgery in New York is considered a very serious crime. However, similarly to other forms of crime within New York and other states, the penalties that are given will depend largely on the degree of the forgery for which a person has been convicted, as well as other surrounding factors.

In New York, forgery of the first degree is a Class C felony crime, and a person convicted of this crime may face a prison sentence of up to fifteen years as well as a fine that does not exceed the higher of either double the defendants gain from the act of the forgery, or $5,000.

Forgery in the second degree is classed as a class D felony in New York, and a person convicted of this crime could face a prison sentence of up to seven years and fine that does not exceed either double the defendant’s gain, or $5,000 – depending on which is higher.

Finally, forgery in the third degree is classed as a Class A misdemeanor crime in New York. Individuals that are convicted of third-degree forgery crimes will face a sentence that will not exceed one year in prison, as well as the potential for a fine of up to $1,000.

Importantly, it is worth noting that the law for forgery in New York does not place any additional emphasis on falsely completing, altering, or making a written instrument. Regardless of whether you create new documents, delete content, or insert new information into an already existing item, the elements of forgery involved will mean that you are guilty of this crime.

Forgery Defenses

As with any crime in New York, it is possible to defend against an accusation of forgery using various techniques and strategies. For example, some of the most common defenses that are frequently used in forgery cases include:

  • Lack of Intent – In this defense the aim is to prove that the actions undertaken by the defendant were not done with the intent to deceive, injure, or defraud another person or party. In this case, it is up to the prosecutor to prove otherwise.
  • Lack of knowledge – It is possible to indicate that the defendants in question had no idea that the item they held was forged in the first place. If a forgery is of high quality, it is possible for it to be passed on to other people without them being aware of the illegality of the actions.
  • Infancy – If the accused involved in an act of forgery are under the age of 16, they cannot be charged in the same way as an adult. One example is when a child forges his mother’s signature in order to get money.
  • Mental defect – Finally, it is possible to argue that the defendant was not in his right mind, or did not possess the mental capacity to understand the nature of his actions.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for forgery in New York depends on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony in your forgery case. Generally, the statute of limitations for a felony is five years, but there are extraordinary circumstances wherein the limitations can be extended or tolled.

New York Forgery Cases