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Defenses to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

General Defenses to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

No New York criminal lawyer can tell you he or she has a readily available and “catch all” defense to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument whether it be for the First, Second or Third Degree of this crime. Because each case is distinct, a defense in one case may not be appropriate due to the evidence in another case. For example, would arguing you were unaware that the drivers license you had in your pocket was not fake when it is from a state where you never resided, contains your picture and has inaccurate date of birth? Obviously, the answer is certainly “no.”

Despite there not being a “cookie cutter” defense in any crime (and the ridiculous hypothetical above), there are some basic avenues to consider pursuing. How can prosecutors establish your intent to defraud? What action, other than mere possession, can be attributed to your intent? Did you try to use a fake credit card or did you just possess one fraudulent $20 bill amongst ten legitimate ones? Is there an argument that you did not know it was fake? Does it matter that you were stopped for some other alleged infraction and it was in your wallet as opposed being arrested while making a transaction at a store? Is there an argument to be had that you in fact did or believed you had permission to sign another person’s name to a contract or deed? Even if it is not another person’s name, but a made up name or alias, does that identification or certification with this “fake name” automatically form the basis of a Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument charge or arrest? Even more interesting, if you submitted false and made up invoices, but it accurately reflected money owed to you, do you have a potential defense that you never intended to defraud? Each of these questions and issues may tie directly you’re your defense. Vetting all of these relevant questions, and many more, with the criminal lawyer you believe will be the most capable of arguing your defense is critical.

Statutory Defenses to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

Among many reasons why it is essential to retain an experienced New York criminal lawyer or Forged Instrument attorney to represent you in a fraud investigation or arrest is the importance of having counsel with knowledge of the New York Penal Law. While some attorneys, certainly not all, can be creative in the way they attack a criminal case of NY PL 170.20, 170.25 or 170.30, if he or she does not possess the real world experience defending against these crimes your attorney may not be familiar with the law beyond the bare minimum. Unbeknownst to many lawyers, the New York State Penal Code, pursuant to New York Penal Law 170.35, specifically prevents a jury from convicting a defendant of both Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument for the same exact item. In other words, a jury could not convict you for possessing a fake passport or counterfeit currency as well as forging the same. In fact, at a trial of a Saland Law client, we successfully argued the statute that codifies this rule and the prosecution dismissed the applicable charge despite initially being unaware of the law.

Statutory Presumptions Involving Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

Just as it is critical to have knowledge of the statutory defense to Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument as well as the ability to construct the same, it is also important to understand the legal presumptions established by law. In terms of Forged Instrument related crimes, this presumption is narrowly tailored and codified in New York Penal Law 170.27. This statute makes defending against credit card or debit card fraud in New York potentially more difficult than many other offenses. NY PL 170.27 establishes that if you possess two or more forged credit or debit cards, a judge can instruct a jury that they may legally conclude that you had knowledge that the items were forged and you possessed those cards with the intent to deceive or defraud another. Obviously, such an instruction to a jury is damming and one that needs to be addressed with counsel well before you step foot in that courtroom for trial.

While the information above barely scratches the surface as to potential defense ranging from mitigation to evidentiary and procedural, starting off your case correctly and diligently pursuing your defense as early as possible is often key to successfully defending yourself. Protect your liberty. Protect your future. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys at Saland Law are ready to challenge the prosecution, implement your defense and zealously fight for your future.

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

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