Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

They are probably some of the most common fraud and white-collar crimes in New York and some of the most serious offenses prosecuted in the New York City courts. Beyond the borders of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and New York’s other boroughs, those who perpetrate the various degrees of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, and their sister crimes of Forgery, are regularly arrested, prosecuted and even indicted. In the neighboring counties of Westchester, Putnam and Rockland, alleged offenders are treated no different. Make no mistake. A conviction for Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in any of its various degrees and forms – First Degree (New York Penal Law 170.30), Second Degree (New York Penal Law 170.25) and Third Degree (New York Penal Law 170.20) – can, and often does, lead to time in jail or even state prison. The skillful guidance of a New York criminal lawyer or Forgery attorney experienced in these fraud crimes may make the difference between a criminal record and jail or a resolution that enables you to walk away as unscathed as possible.

What is Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument?

Maybe you just wanted to sneak into a bar or buy some beer. Heck, all the guys your age have a fake ID. It can’t be that serious to possess a fraudulent identification, can it? Maybe you possessed something more “villainous” such as a fake or counterfeit $20 bill? How about a falsely embossed credit card or altered debit card? Alternatively, you created a completely fake certification of some sort or maybe you only filled out an application improperly for housing or employment. While the action of falsely completing or making those documents and other written instruments may constitute other crimes such as Forgery, Falsifying Business Records or Offering a False Instrument for Filing, when does this fraudulent conduct rise to the level of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in New York?

Generally speaking, you are guilty of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, regardless of whether you are charged with NY PL 170.20, 170.25 or 170.30, if you possess a completed or modified written instrument you know is fake and you do so with the intent to defraud or deceive another. To be clear, the New York State Penal Law does not require that the instrument be something of value to the government or a bank. Knowing possession of seemingly insignificant items as a New York State Driver’s License with an altered date of birth, a temporary registration for a vehicle with a penciled in expiration date not on the original, or other manipulated documentation with the intent to defraud such as fake invoice with an inflated price, can, and likely will, result in a charge of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. As a base level offense, your criminal lawyer should be able to explain that the law makes no distinction if the forged item you have is a temporary registration kept solely for you to drive your vehicle to work or you are a criminal mastermind who has forged passports and legal documents looking to steal from a bank, a business partner or a law firm. Once again, if you possess documents that you know are fake and you do so with the intent to defraud you will face one of these Forged Instrument crimes.

A General Description: The Three Forged Instrument Crimes in New York

The most common of all crimes involving Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument is also the least significant (if there is such a thing in the criminal law). Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 170.20 is an “A” misdemeanor punishable by as much as one year in jail. This misdemeanor conviction will not be expunged from your record on a later date merely because it is not a felony offense.

The mid-level offense involving Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument is the Second Degree crime. A significant jump from the Third Degree offense, New York Penal Law 170.25 is a “D” felony. If a felony record is not serious enough, the crime is punishable by up to seven years in state prison. “Fake ID crimes” and fraudulent credit cards technically fall into this category.

The most serious crime of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument is the First Degree offense. Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the First Degree, pursuant to New York Penal Law 170.30 is a “C” felony punishable by as many as fifteen years in state custody. The most common manner in which this degree is perpetrated is when the forged item in question is currency from the United States, i.e., you have counterfeit money.

Other NY Crimes Associated with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

Make no mistake. An experienced New York criminal lawyer who has handled many fraud crimes will tell you that the possession of any type of fraudulent document or writing need not be part of a larger criminal scheme or a means by which the accused is seeking to gain money. However, just as you could face a felony conviction for possessing a forged passport, credit card or vehicle registration, your actions may be part of a larger scheme. As a result, many other felonies, equal to and more significant than Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, may be readily “available” to a New York prosecutor. These crimes may include:

Far from an exhaustive list, the above crimes range from an “E” felony punishable by up to four years in prison to a “B” felony punishable by up to twenty-five years behind bars.

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense involving Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a conviction has the potential to destroy your career and land you in prison for years. Simply put, no criminal conviction is minor and will always remain with you. When you recertify a professional license, apply for a job or deal with immigration issues, there is no luxury in New York for an expungement to hide behind. A conviction for any degree of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument will become a part of your permanent record.

Protect your liberty today. Secure your future well beyond tomorrow. Contact the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC so you can begin the process of identifying and implementing the right defense to a Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument arrest and a potentially debilitating situation.

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Call our New York criminal lawyers & Forged Instrument attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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