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Second Degree Tampering with Public Records: NY Penal Law 175.20

There are no criminal charges that do not necessitate the advocacy of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with both the law and working knowledge of the justice system in New York City and State. If there is an exception to this rule, which there is not, it certainly isn’t an arrest for Second Degree Tampering with Public Records pursuant to Penal Law 175.20. In fact, if handled improperly and you are convicted by a judge or jury of your peers, know this: your record will be forever tainted and future employers, the government and other parties will not merely know of your case, but have the ability to learn more about it as well. You have been warned.

Elements of Tampering with Public Records in the Second Degree

If you know that you lack the permission of anyone who rightfully can grant it, you nonetheless knowingly destroy, alter, conceal or otherwise make a wrongful entry in any record or written instrument filed with or that constitutes a record of a public office or servant, then you are guilty of NY PL 175.20. You’ll note – or certainly should – that the law does not mandate that prosecutors prove that the purpose of your alleged action was monetary in nature.

Penalties and Punishment

Because it is designated a class “A” misdemeanor, there is no requirement that a judge incarcerate you for any duration, but a court has a right to do so for a time period not to exceed one year. Therefore, if convicted in Westchester County or Rockland, you would serve your sentence in the respective county jail, for example. If a judge is lenient, he or she can require that you serve a term of probation, complete some form of community service or discharge you with other conditions.

Collateral Issues

A fraud type offense, if you are regulated by FINRA, hold a specialized degree or certification, or you are foreign national with legal status, you should consult with your lawyer as a conviction may upend your life and career outside the courtroom even if resolved within the justice system with nominal sanctions.

Hypothetical and Example

Maybe you scratched off a date on an internal memo with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Alternatively, the MTA records you filed contained false information as to work conducted and dates completed. Further, you knowingly made these alterations without authority to do so whether it be for monetary gain or some other less devious reason. Have you committed a crime in New York? Are you in need of counsel? The answer to both of these questions is unequivocally “yes.” Simply, if you knew you did not have the authority, but behaved as described, you very well may find yourself before a judge in a local Putnam Justice Court or Manhattan Criminal Court.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

No matter the degree of or allegations involving any charge of Tampering with Public Records, it is not merely the misdemeanor conviction or one year in jail that you need to be concerned about. Even worse, if arrested for the class “D” felony and facing as much as seven years in prison upon a conviction for First Degree Tampering with Public Records, you must still be cognizant of the consequences outside the courtroom as well. From a loss of current and future employment to an inability to maintain or renew professional licenses and certifications, this offense and other associated crimes are nothing to trifle with.

Protect yourself now and well into the future. Educate yourself on the charges. Identify your best defense and the strongest strategy to get you to where you need to be. When you are ready to face your allegations head on and minimize your legal and outside exposure – or even secure a dismissal, acquittal or other vindication – contact the criminal defense team and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC so advocacy, experience and knowledge can be both your shield and sword.

Call our New York criminal lawyers and former Assistant District Attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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