New York Penal Law § 170.15 – Forgery in the First Degree
Forgery in the First Degree is a serious white collar crime in New York. More specifically, this law punishes those who create, complete, or alter certain written documents with the intent to defraud or deceive another person or entity. Forgery in the First Degree is a Class C felony.What Are the Elements of Forgery in the 1st Degree?
The United States Constitution provides that it is the government’s burden to prove the allegations against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this, the government’s prosecutor must provide evidence to establish each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
The elements of Forgery in the First Degree are:
- The defendant falsely created, completed, or altered a written instrument;
- The defendant did so with the intent to deceive, injure or defraud another party; and
- The written instrument was one of the following:
- Any part of an issue of money, stamps, securities or other similar instruments that are issued by a government;
- Any part of an issue of stocks, bonds or other similar instruments that creates a claim of interest against a corporation or other entity.
The following are examples of Forgery in the First Degree:
- A stockbroker markets a fake IPO to clients, showing them falsely made filings that were purported to have been filed with the SEC.
- A person uses a copier to make false copies of a U.S. savings bond.
While every case is different, prosecutors often bring several charges against a defendant based on a single course of conduct. In the case of Forgery in the First Degree, the following are the most common related crimes:
- Forgery in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 170.10
- Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 175.05
- Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 175.10
- Tampering with Business Records in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 175.20
- Tampering with Business Records in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 175.25
- Issuing a False Financial Statement – NY Penal Law § 175.45
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 170.25
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 170.30
- Fraudulent Making of an Electronic Access Device in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 170.75
- Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number – NY Penal Law § 170.65
- Issuing a False Certificate – NY Penal Law § 175.40
There are multiple defenses to Forgery in the 1st Degree. Successful forgery defenses play a major role in reducing—or eliminating—many of the negative consequences that can come along with an arrest.
For example, a defense may reduce your sentencing exposure, result in the prosecution withdrawing the case against you, or give the jury doubt, leading to a “not guilty” verdict.
The most common defenses include the following:
- You did not have the intent to defraud another person or entity, even if you falsely created or altered a written instrument;
- The “instrument” was not one of those listed in NY Penal Law § 170.15; or
- You were not the one who created or altered the written instrument.
Forgery crimes are exceptionally complex, and prosecutors will sometimes charge the wrong crime based on the conduct. This, too, can be a defense, as it’s the government’s responsibility to file the correct charges, and if the wrong charges are filed, it may be too late to amend the complaint.What Are the Penalties for Violating NY Penal Law § 170.15?
Forgery in the First Degree is a Class C felony. In New York, Class C felonies carry a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000.Have You Been Charged With a New York Forgery Crime?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a forgery offense in New York, your choice of which NY criminal defense attorney you bring onto your case may be one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your case. At Tilem & Associates, we have over two decades of hands-on experience aggressively defending the rights of our clients charged with all types of financial crimes, including serious allegations of fraud and forgery. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.