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 capable criminal 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
- 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.