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New Jersey Forgery Lawyer

Forgery may not conjure an image of a hardened criminal, but it is treated as a serious crime in New Jersey and prosecuted vigorously.  If you are facing forgery charges, a New Jersey forgery lawyer can ensure you are treated with respect and given the best chances of mitigating the serious penalties you may be facing in the event of a conviction.

Retain the services of a seasoned New Jersey fraud defense attorney and know that you are in good hands.

Forgery Defined

Forgery is defined at NJ Stat. § 2C:21-1.  At its most basic level, forgery amounts to a person either changing someone else’s writing or claiming someone else’s writing as their own with the intent to enrich themselves or to injure someone else.

The term writing has a broad meaning that extends far beyond the deeds and checks that most people think of when imagining what forgery entails.  It includes:    

  •  Printing or any other method of recording information
  • Money, coins, tokens, stamps and seals
  • Credit cards       
  • Badges   
  • Trademark
  • Sales receipts and UPC codes
  • Any other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification

Driver’s licenses, deeds and titles, drug prescriptions, contracts, birth certificates, and identification badges are all common types of writings that may be subject of forgery, but nearly any item that represents an item of value or right can be the subject of forgery.

Importance of Intent

Intent is a critical element of forgery, and one that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction.  For this reason, altering a writing that does not belong to the one altering the text, is not a crime if the owner has authorized the person to do so.

Similarly, altering sales receipts, identification badges, and similar items is not criminal if the person does not have fraudulent intent (for personal record keeping or archiving purposes, for example).

In addition to criminalizing the act of forgery, NJ Stat. § 2C:21-1 also criminalizes the possession of devices used to facilitate forgery. These may include specialized machines such as ID printers, computer hardware and software, and unauthorized retail encoding and tagging devices.

What Penalties May a Courtroom Consider for Forgery?

Forgery can be either a third-degree crime or fourth-degree crime (both of which are comparable to felonies in other jurisdictions), depending on the type of writing that is forged.

A third-degree crime involves forging money, securities, postage or revenue stamps, government-issued certificates and licenses, drug prescriptions, stocks and bonds, titles and deeds, or checks.

Possession of forgery devices is also a third-degree crime, as is possessing 15 or more forged retail sales receipts or UPC codes. Third-degree crimes are serious, and may be punished with three to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. A skilled New Jersey forgery lawyer can attempt to mitigate the penalties that an individual may face.

In all other instances, forgery is a fourth-degree crime and is punishable by probation, up to 18 months in prison, up to a year in jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.

How a New Jersey Forgery Attorney Can Help

A New Jersey forgery lawyer can help you face forgery charges with the confidence that your rights and interests will be protected at every stage in the process.

A New Jersey forgery  attorney can work with prosecutors to try to reduce your charges and will fight to help you avoid the most severe penalties associated with a forgery charge. Work with a determined criminal defense attorney that can build a solid defense for you.

What qualifications should a New Jersey forgery lawyer have?

To protect your rights and have the best chance of winning a favorable outcome, a New Jersey forgery lawyer should have the following qualifications:

  • Successful experience taking forgery cases to trial
  • Familiarity with both New Jersey Municipal and Superior Court cases
  • Deep jurisdiction-specific knowledge regarding forgery laws
  • A proven reputation and successful track record with past clients
  • Strong analytical and research skills in terms of evidence

You see, building a defense strategy in any forgery case is a very complex process. Under N.J. Stat. § 2C:21-1, you’re guilty of this crime if you committed the act intending to defraud or damage someone. You’re also guilty if you did so to help someone else achieve these same goals.

Without the qualifications above, an attorney is unlikely to know how to effectively defend against forgery charges.

You need a pragmatic, analytical, and experienced New Jersey forgery lawyer like John B. Fabriele, III to protect your rights and fight for your freedom.

How serious are forgery charges in New Jersey?

Forgery charges can be very serious in New Jersey considering you face prison time as a potential consequence. It all depends on the details—check forgery, for example, may be a disorderly persons offense or a second-degree felony if certain conditions are met.

Plus, the fines far outweigh whatever financial benefit you might’ve hoped to gain. Again using check forgery as an example, if the check was valued at more than $75,000, you face up to $150,000 in fines.

Ultimately, New Jersey doesn’t take a less severe stance on forgery charges versus, for example, violent crimes. You can still wind up spending years in prison and paying thousands in fines.

What are the penalties for forgery in New Jersey?

The penalties for forgery in New Jersey depend on the degree of crime, with fourth-degree forgery having slightly less severe consequences than third-degree forgery.

If convicted of fourth-degree forgery in New Jersey, your potential penalties include:

  • Up to 18 months in prison
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Felony conviction on your criminal record
  • Probation

If convicted of third-degree forgery in New Jersey, your potential penalties include:

  • Minimum 3 years in prison, up to 5 years
  • Fines up to $15,000
  • Felony conviction on your criminal record
  • Probation

Even once you’ve completed your sentence, having a felony conviction on your record can seriously limit your options when it comes to:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Housing options
  • Securing professional licenses

What are common defenses against a forgery charge in New Jersey?

Common defenses against a forgery charge in New Jersey are:

  • That you had consent to alter the other person’s writing
  • That you had no intention of defrauding the other person
  • That this is a case of mistaken identity and you didn’t do it
  • That there isn’t sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof
  • That violations of your rights during the investigation nullify specific pieces of evidence

But even if none of the above is true, you can still benefit from hiring a skilled New Jersey forgery lawyer to defend your case.

John B. Fabriele, III has successfully negotiated with New Jersey prosecutors to reduce charges in countless cases. While your options will depend on your existing criminal record and the severity of your forgery case, he’ll explore every possible avenue for getting your charges dismissed or reduced.

Can you be charged with forgery in New Jersey if you didn't benefit financially?

Yes, you can still be charged with forgery in New Jersey even if you didn’t benefit financially. What’s far more important here is the “intent to defraud,” as mentioned above.

Let’s say, for example, you hold a medical license. You’re required to maintain certain certifications for your license, such as a valid CPR certificate. You attend and complete a CPR class to keep your license valid, but for whatever reason, your new certificate never arrives in the mail.

So, you simply alter your existing certificate to show the new, correct expiration date.

Even though in this scenario you aren’t benefiting financially because you did indeed pay for the class and the certificate, it could result in criminal charges being brought against you for forgery—and your medical license would be in jeopardy.

This is just one of countless examples of how someone can unwittingly find themselves facing forgery charges and in need of a skilled NJ forgery defense attorney to advocate on their behalf.

Can a forgery charge be expunged from my record in New Jersey?

Yes, most forgery charges can be expunged from your record in New Jersey—depending on a few key details.

If your forgery conviction was tied to a non-expungeable crime, such as drug trafficking or kidnapping, then it most likely isn’t eligible for expungement. But so long as you’re eligible, you can file an expungement petition.

To get started, you’ll need an official, state-issued copy of your criminal record. The various details it includes will be necessary for your expungement petition.

Then, the easiest way to proceed is by hiring a knowledgeable New Jersey expungement attorney such as John B. Fabriele, III. There are quite a few determining factors in the expungement process, and missing a single one can result in your application being denied.

If you’d like to learn more about how expungement can benefit your life and whether you’re eligible, call (732) 246-0888 now for your free case evaluation.

How can a lawyer help if the forgery case goes to trial?

A lawyer can help if your forgery case goes to trial by:

  • Being by your side in court to aggressively advocate on your behalf
  • Conducting an independent investigation ahead of the trial to build your defense
  • Challenging and suppressing as much evidence as possible before the trial
  • Taking steps during the trial to ensure you aren’t shut out of an appeal afterward

But really, these are just a small glimpse into how much John B. Fabriele, III will do to defend you if your forgery case goes to trial.

There are so many possible avenues for defense and disproving the prosecution, like:

  • Challenging the validity of any handwriting analysis
  • Questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s expert witnesses
  • Probing into and dismantling your supposed motive during the trial
  • Hiring industry experts to testify in your favor during the trial

The sooner you hire a skilled New Jersey forgery lawyer like John B. Fabriele, III, the more time you’ll have to build a strong defense strategy. Call (732) 487-3223 now for your free case evaluation.