Tampering With Public Records
There is no such thing as a “minor” crime in New York or anywhere else for that matter. Any offense, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, is one which will follow you throughout the rest of your life. Those who think white collar or fraud crimes are different in this respect are unequivocally wrong. As New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors, we have seen from both sides of the law how those accused of white collar crimes must cope with the devastating impacts of an arrest, indictments and convictions. Two such crimes that are not immune from these direct and collateral consequences are Tampering with Public Records in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 175.25) and Tampering with Public Records in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 175.20).
- First Degree Tampering with Public Records: NY PL 175.25
- Second Degree Tampering with Public Records: NY PL 175.20
Very similar to the crime of Falsifying Business Records as well as Offering a False Instrument for Filing, the crimes of Tampering with a Public Record are still unique and have their own set of potential punishment. While the NY PL 175.20 is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than on year in jail (Rikers Island or the Westchester County Jail, for example), an arrest, indictment and conviction for NY PL 175.25 is vastly more serious. This latter crime is a felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison.
Although the nuances of each of the Tampering with Public Records offenses is addressed in the respective sections above, it is important to recognize that this crime occurs in the context of a public agency as opposed to the private sector. While Offering a False Instrument for Filing often involves an external party filing a fraudulent document with a governmental agency with knowledge that the altered or fake document will become part of a public record, Tampering with Public Records often occurs internally. Regardless, it is critical to understand that if you possess an intent to defraud, (this intent need not be an intent to gain money) your crime will be bumped up to a felony offense. This element, or lack thereof, is critically important to assess when being charged with and defending against NY PL 175.25. Scratching off or altering records without this intent will not give prosecutors grounds to seek an indictment for this offense. However, because of the difference between the possible sentences between these two degrees, Assistant District Attorneys will certainly attempt to establish your intent to defraud through direct or circumstantial evidence as to give them the ability to charge the more serious crime.
Whether the crime of Tampering with Public Records is charged as the only count of an arrest or an indictment is case specific. Generally, however, this crime is often seen with other offenses including, but not limited to:
- Grand Larceny: New York Penal Law Article 155
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: New York Penal Law Article 170
- Forgery: New York Penal Law Article 170
Whether you have already been arrested or you have been questioned by the police or employers, protect your rights. Do not inculpate yourself or compound the predicament you find yourself in. After all, a conviction or even a hint of fraud can not only potentially end in your incarceration, but destroy your career and future.
Educate yourself on the law. Consult with a New York criminal lawyer. Contact the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors to identify the strongest defense and set it into motion.
Call our New York criminal lawyers at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.