Third Degree Forgery: NY Penal Law 170.05

Forgery in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 170.05, is a misdemeanor crime that carries a sentence of up to one year in jail. Whether you received a Desk Appearance, a/k/a, DAT, or you were held for up to 24 hours before seeing a criminal court judge in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens, is of no relevance. The crime is the same. While many people are under the misguided belief that New York Forgery crimes involve greater White Collar schemes or frauds, that simply is not the truth. Regardless of what you forged or are alleged to have forged (it must be a “written instrument” as addressed below), the consequences to your career, livelihood and future are the same.

What is Third Degree Forgery in New York: PL 170.05

The legal definition of Third Degree Forgery is fairly basic. Under the New York State Penal Law you are guilty of 170.05 if, with the intent to defraud, deceive or injure another person, you falsely make, complete or alter a written instrument. To be clear, this code does not require that you are caught with the final product or that you are ten, fifty or ninety percent done with whatever alteration you are making. Further, the alteration need not be substantial. As long as you have the intent to deceive or defraud and you falsely make or alter any written instrument – passport, identification card, bank statement, check, MetroCard, etc. – you face up to a year in jail and a criminal record that will follow you throughout your life.

Although greater information defining this crime is available at CrottySaland.Com and the links below, the basics are as follows. A written instrument is an object that can be used to help you or damage another. It can be something that creates a right, privilege or something of value. In the realm of Desk Appearance Tickets, this written instrument is often some form of identification such as fake ID, passport or drivers license, but it is not limited to these items. In fact, technically, such Forgery crimes can be felony offenses. In addition to understanding what the written instrument must convey, the instrument can be either complete or incomplete, ie, a work in progress or a finished one.

Defenses and Consequences of a Forgery Arrest

Simply stated, the consequences of a Forgery arrest are dire. Any other assertion would be disingenuous. Does an arrest for PL 170.05 mean you will be incarcerated? Is a DAT or full processing for Third Degree Forgery something that will go away on its own? The answer to both of these questions is “no,” but there could be career ending consequences for professionals in the legal, medical and financial sector especially those who are regulated by FINRA or the FDIC. Compounding matters, first time offender or not, a conviction can be deemed a “crime of moral turpitude for immigration” purposes. While a person with no criminal history will not likely see a jail sentence, a criminal conviction is a possibility depending on the nature of the forgery act and the instrument being forged. Due to these very real dangers, you must always be prepared to challenge the basis of your arrest, the nature of the prosecution’s evidence and if necessary your character and history.

Should you be arrested for any degree of Forgery in New York, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, do yourself a tremendous favor. Come to court armed with knowledge and a plan to attack the allegations. Failure to do so will leave you exposed to a “Scarlet Letter” criminal conviction and a regret that will 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.