Forgery and Fraud Crimes

Forgery, Forged Instruments and Falsifying Business Record Misdemeanors: PL 170.05, PL 170.20 and 175.05

In New York City and throughout the counties of New York (Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), Queens and the Bronx, Desk Appearance Ticket arrests routinely involve the crimes of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Forgery and Falsifying Business Records. Each of these crimes are serious. Beyond the arrest and collateral implications to your career, profession or legal status in the United States, convictions are potentially punishable by up to a year in jail. While incarceration is always a possibility under the New York Penal Law, generally when a police officer or detective with the NYPD issues a DAT instead of bringing you into Central Booking, the crimes of NY PL 170.20, Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, NY PL 170.05, Third Degree Forgery, and Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, NY PL 175.05, are not offenses that should raise the one year in jail flag. The more significant and immediate concern is whether or not you will be convicted of any crime at all. If you are, you will never get the criminal conviction for Forgery, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument or Falsifying Business Records removed from your record. If the stigma isn’t bad enough, a lifetime criminal record should be.

Although the crimes of PL 170.20, PL 170.05 and PL 175.05 are the same level or degree offense, they are distinct crimes. Simply put, Forgery in the Third Degree is the making of the phony instrument while Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree is the possession of the same. You could be guilty of one and not the other. A completely distinct crime that can be charged in addition to Forgery or Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Second Degree Falsifying Business records involves the deleting, making a fake entry or changing of records of a particular business, enterprise or company with the intent to defraud. Keep in mind that when you are given your DAT or Desk Appearance Ticket for a later appearance in a New York City Criminal Court, the face of that DAT will only have one offense or top charge listed. Nothing prevents prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office from filing a criminal complaint containing more than the charge listed on your ticket.

Things to Consider when Arrested for a New York Fraud Crime

While every New York fraud crime is not equal, for professionals and those aspiring to become one or individuals who are not American citizens, there are significant collateral consequences. Can a misdemeanor arrest and conviction in New York City (or anywhere for that matter throughout the State of New York), be considered a crime of moral turpitude? Moreover, if you are license with a bank or as a broker wither through the FDIC or by FINRA, is a PL 170.20, PL 170.05 or PL 175.05 crime one that must be reflected on a U4 if you are convicted? Beyond these specific examples, what must you disclose and will your arrest or conviction be found on future employment checks? Even if the matter is resolved without a conviction, if it does “pop” what will you do?

What Should You Do if You are given a DAT for a Fraud Crime

As noted above, merely because the law allows for up to a year of incarceration upon a criminal conviction does not mean you will be spending time on Rikers Island or another county jail. However, if you believe that you received a DAT for Third Degree Forgery, Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument or Second Degree Falsifying Business Records and a prosecutor is not going to waste his or her time with it, then you are sadly mistaken. Even worse, you are setting yourself up for something that could derail your future. There is no difference between a Desk Appearance Ticket and a fully processed arrest through Central Booking.

Upon selecting your counsel, identify the reason why the police stopped or arrested you and found the alleged forged instrument. Is there a 4th amendment issue, for example? Was the search “bad”? Even if it was legal, is the item in question truly a forged instrument in the eyes of the law? How can law enforcement establish you actually committed the forging or falsification? Did you make an admission or statement to an employer, the police or an Assistant District Attorney? Are there grounds for suppression? If the legal or factual defense is week how can you mitigate your conduct? What can you provide your attorney so he or she can resolve the case appropriately and without an admission of wrongdoing?

Whether you have a fake drivers license to get into a bar, have a bent MetroCard, an altered passport or a you are caught modifying a credit or debit card, there are a lot of offenses that fall within the statutory guidelines of New York Penal Law 170.20 and New York Penal Law 170.05. Similarly, if you change payroll records, alter invoices or change other paperwork of your employer or a business, you may be violating New York Penal Law 170.05. Even worse, your conduct could be felonious with the potential for incarceration in a New York State prison even if your DAT is merely charging something lesser. Educate yourself on the law. Identify your legal or factual defenses. Establish mitigating evidence. Do not wait until the day you are due in court to address your arrest. Do not expect nothing will come of your case. If you do so, be prepared to proceed at your own risk with ramifications that can last a lifetime.

Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York City criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors about misdemeanor Forgery and Forged Instrument Crimes.