Forgery is, traditionally, the crime of falsifying a document or a signature to gain some benefit. In many cases, faking a document can allow someone access to funds or authority they do not deserve, and most forgery charges occur as part of theft or identify theft cases. If you or a loved one was charged with forgery in Atlantic City, it is vital to talk to an experienced Atlantic City forgery defense attorney today.
The Atlantic City defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych have decades of combined experience handling forgery cases, theft offenses, identity theft charges, and other offenses in South Jersey. To schedule a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
What Constitutes Forgery in New Jersey?
New Jersey’s general forgery statute is N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-1. To commit fraud, you must have the purpose of committing “a fraud or injury,” whether you are the one using the forgery or not. This statute covers both creation of a forged instrument (whether or not you actually use it) as well as using a forged instrument (whether or not you actually created it). It is illegal to do any of the following actions regarding a forged document or writing:
- Transfer, or
- Utter the writing.
A “writing” that can be forged can include any of the following:
- Any printing/recording,
- Credit cards,
- Access devices (i.e., credit cards),
- “Other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification,”
- Sales receipts,
- UPC labels, and
When a check, credit card, or access device is forged, this is often part of a theft offense. Whether it be theft of money, theft of services, theft by deception, or identify theft, this crime can be charged alongside the forgery offense, increasing the potential penalties.
If you are charged under another statute, the crime may not specifically be “forgery,” but could instead fall under:
- § 2C:21-2 for “criminal simulation,” which makes it a crime to falsify an object to make someone think it “ha[s] value because of antiquity, rarity, source, or authorship which it does not possess.” This could include forging an autograph, painting, or another antique or collectible.
- § 2C:21-2.1 for falsifying government documents. This can include creating fake passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, or other documents (or possessing the materials to do so).
- § 2C:21-2.2 for selling or transferring a police badge.
- § 2C:21-2.3 for falsifying car insurance.
- § 2C:21-2.4 for falsifying sales receipts or UPCs.
- § 2C:21-3 for falsifying public records.
- Or § 2C:21-4 for falsifying or destroying any other record to conceal wrongdoing.
There is also a separate offense under § 2C:21-1(c) for possessing “forgery devices,” including the materials used to make any forgery.
Penalties for Forgery Offenses in New Jersey
If you are charged with forgery, the level of crime you face might change depending on the circumstances. The crime becomes a third degree crime if you forge any of the following:
- Other investments,
- “[P]ostage or revenue stamps,”
- Other items issued by the government (e.g., licenses),
- Prescription blanks,
- “[p]ersonal identifying information on an access device,”
- A check, or
- 15 or more sales receipts or UPC labels.
Possession of forgery devices is also a third degree crime.
Fourth degree crimes are the lowest level of “indictable crime” in New Jersey. Indicatable crimes are similar to felonies in other states and are graded as fourth through first degree crimes, with first being the most severe. A fourth degree crime is punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000. A third degree crime is more severe, with 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
In many cases where the forger and the person using the forgery are not the same person, you may be charged with conspiracy offenses. Conspiracy charges can have their own penalties separate from the underlying offense.
In many cases, judges may be willing to reduce the overall penalty at sentencing. Since forgery is a nonviolent offense and may not cause substantial harm under certain circumstances, 18 months in prison might be a harsh penalty. Judges may offer probation instead of jail time, which allows you to face supervision and other requirements rather than jail time. This can help you keep your job and some level of freedom while serving your sentence. Talk to an attorney today to discuss what potential penalties you may be facing on your forgery charges.
Atlantic City Forgery Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with forgery or using a forged writing, talk to an attorney today. The Atlantic City forgery defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free, confidential consultations to help you understand what our legal services can do for you. To schedule your consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.