Forgery Laws NJ
Forgery is an extraordinarily broad term, applied in cases involving forged items ranging from prescriptions for medications to bad checks and credit card receipts, driver’s licenses, passports, and birth certificates. As such, forgery charges are often accompanied by other criminal charges such as those for prescription fraud, credit card fraud, check fraud, identity theft, and theft by deception. The specific item allegedly forged is generally used to determine the degree of these charges, which can result in a significant prison sentence, restitution payments, and felony charges on your criminal record if you are ultimately found guilty.
Forgery in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1
Forgery offenses are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which reads:
A person is guilty of forgery if, with a purpose to defraud or injure anyone, or with the knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone, the actor:
- Alters or changes any writing of another without his authorization;
- Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act or of a fictitious person, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was, in fact, the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed; or
- Utters any writing which he knows to be forged in a manner specified in the paragraph.
“Writing” includes printing or any other method of recording information, money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks, access devices, and other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification, including retail sales receipts, universal product code (UPC) labels and checks. This section shall apply without limitation to forged, copied or imitated checks.
Penalties for Forgery Crimes
As mentioned previously, the specific item associated with the alleged crime is critical for determining the degree of forgery charges and thus, the potential penalties. The types of forgery charges and associated items are explained in more detail below.
- Third Degree Crime Forgery: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison; however, there is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders.
- Applies in cases involving: issues of money, securities, postage or revenue stamps, or other instruments, certificates or licenses issued by the government, New Jersey Prescription Blanks, or part of an issue of stock, bonds or other instruments representing interest in or claims against any property or enterprise, personal identifying information, and checks.
- Fourth Degree Crime Forgery: punishable by a period of up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison; applies in all cases outside of the confines of those listed above.
It is important to note that if you have been charged with forgery and have never been convicted of a crime, you may be considered a good candidate for probation or a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention, which will lead to the dismissal of the charges if successfully completed. To speak with an attorney about the circumstances of your case, contact their office.
Facing Forgery Charges in NJ?
The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have served on both sides of the law. Regardless of their specific position, the criminal defense attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have been consistent servants of the interests of justice. They now dedicate themselves to defending their clients, whom they fervently believe have the right to the presumption of innocence. For a free consultation about your pending legal proceedings, contact their Essex County office anytime.