In New York state, you could spend time in jail and a pay a fine if convicted of forgery. State law says that basic forgery occurs when you alter or complete a written instrument with the intent to deceive or cause injury to another party. Let’s take a look at the specific penalties that could be imposed for committing such a crime and potential defenses to the charge.

An overview of forgery in the first and second degree

Forgery in the first degree may occur if the fraud involves securities, money or stamps from a government or entity affiliated with the government. Forgery in the second degree may occur if you created a fake prescription, altered a deed or created a token or other instrument that was meant to be used as an alternate currency.

The penalties for these crimes

If you are convicted of basic forgery, you could spend up to a year in jail and pay a fine of up to $1,000. In the event that you are convicted of forgery in the second degree, you can spend up to seven years in prison and pay a fine of at least $5,000. A conviction on the most serious type of forgery charge will result in a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of at least $5,000.

Defenses to a forgery charge

It may be possible to claim that you weren’t intending to defraud anyone or that you are innocent because of a mental defect. Generally speaking, individuals who are under the age of 16 cannot be charged or convicted of forgery. Finally, you may be able to assert that you didn’t know that an instrument was altered or otherwise inaccurate when you filled it out or sent it to another party.

Being charged with white-collar crimes might result in a tarnished reputation that may make it difficult to retain personal or professional relationships. An attorney may be able to help get forgery or other charges reduced or dismissed in an effort to restore your name.