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First Degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing: NY Penal Law 175.35

Whenever an accused is charged with a crime involving the intent to defraud, criminal defense attorneys experienced in New York Penal Law Article 175 crimes must be on high alert. Specifically, as it relates to any degree of Offering a False Instrument for Filing, it can mean the difference between being arrested for a misdemeanor crime and an indictment for a felony offense. Simply, if you are charged with First Degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing, Penal Law 175.35, know that your exposure to incarceration and a felony record is very real, but prosecutors also have the additional burden of proving that your purported criminal conducted included an intent to defraud.

Elements of the Crime

You are guilty of Penal Law 175.35 if you knowingly have any type of written document or instrument that contains or has a false statement or information on its face, you then present it to a public authority, public servant, or public office. Additionally, whether or not it is actually filed, registered or becomes party of that particular office’s, servant’s or authority’s record, you believe that such filing or registering will occur. What elevates or increases this crime from a misdemeanor to a felony is when you present this written instrument you do so with the intent to defraud.

Intent to Defraud

The term “intent to defraud” is clear on its face, but also complicated enough to require a more thorough or deeper analysis with your own criminal lawyer who is experienced in fraud related offenses. Interpreted by various courts including the Court of Appeals, “intent to defraud” is an act or behavior where the goal is to lead another “into error or disadvantage.” People v. Briggins 50 N.Y.2d 302, 309 (1980) (concurring opinion) (Jones, J.). While your objective may be to steal and often is, the law does not require a theft or attempted theft. In fact, in a case involving Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, an appellate court found that a person seeking to disrupt the government’s ability to administer the law acted with an “intent to defraud” even without any financial or personal benefit.

Penalties and Punishment

Penal Law 175.35 is a class “E” felony. Assuming you have no criminal history or at least no prior felony in the preceding ten years, then prison is not mandatory. However, a judge can sentence you to one and one third years to four years in prison. Alternatively, a court can also sentence you to a “bullet” of one-year jail or less, probation, a combination of local incarceration and probation, community service or some other conditional discharge. If, however, you are a predicate felon, then the mandatory minimum is one and one half to three years in prison and as much as two to four years.

Example and Hypothetical

Knowing that an application for a drivers’ license contains false information, you compete the written instrument and submit it to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles to secure a driving privilege. Alternatively, you fill out a form for a certificate of occupancy with the building department of a local Westchester or Rockland County municipality knowing the materials are false because you want to get a C of O.

In each of the above scenarios, regardless of whether you are successful in fooling anyone, not only might you be liable for another offense such as a degree of Forgery or Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, you would likely violate First Degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing as well.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

No matter the degree or allegation of Offering a False Instrument for Filing, a strong defense is central to preserving your otherwise clean record, career, professional licensure and even immigration status. Can your criminal lawyer poke proverbial holes in the District Attorney’s indictment? For example, how are they establishing your knowledge of the written instrument’s content, your intent to defraud, and that the object in question is in fact a “written instrument”? For that matter, would a lesser misdemeanor prosecution be more appropriate, or the charges dropped in their entirety?

Regardless of whether the charge you face is the sole count in a felony complaint or an indictment, when accused of wrongdoing that can – and will – cripple your future, there is no substitute for knowledge, experience and advocacy. The criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC are ready to stand by your side and lead you throw the criminal justice process.

Call our New York City criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today to discuss your case and possible defenses.

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