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New Jersey Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws

Forgery and counterfeiting are related crimes that involve dishonesty. In New Jersey, a person commits forgery if they have the intent to defraud or injure another and commit the following actions:

  • Change any writing of another without writer's authorization;
  • Make, authenticate, or transfer any writing so that it purports to be that act of another (who didn't authorize that act) or of a fictitious person; or
  • Utter any writing with the knowledge that the writing is forged.

New Jersey Writing Definition

Under New Jersey law, "writing" refers to money, credit cards, badges, access devices and other symbols of value including sales receipts, Universal Product Code (UPC) labels, and checks.

Counterfeiting in New Jersey

The offense of counterfeiting is considered a type of forgery since it pertains to creating a false version of something and attempting to pass it off as legitimate. Many of the more serious offenses involve currency, but the counterfeiting of other entities such as securities or retail merchandise and other goods are also serious offenses. Although counterfeiting is primarily a federal crime, New Jersey enforces its own counterfeiting statute.

New Jersey Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to New Jersey's forgery and counterfeiting laws, including links to important code sections.


  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-1, 2C:21-2 (Forgery)
  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.4 (Possession of fraudulent receipts)
  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-32 (Counterfeiting)
  • New Jersey Statutes 2C: 43-6 (Penalties)


Forgery as a disorderly persons offense:

  • Possession of 1 or more forged sales receipts, UPC labels, or check with the intent to defraud a retail merchant.

Fourth degree forgery:

  • Possession of a forged document
  • Making, altering, or uttering any object so that it appears to have value because of antiquity, rarity, source, or authorship which it doesn't possess

Third degree forgery:

  • Forgery of money, securities, or checks
  • Possession of 15 or more forged receipts labels or checks
  • Possessing or making any device, equipment, software, or article designed or adapted for purposes of forging written instruments
  • Knowingly using a forged government-issued ID (birth certificate, driver's license)


The actual penalties will depend on the specific circumstances in the case; the following are general guidelines:

  • Disorderly persons offense: Punishable by up to 6 months incarceration and/or a fine of up to $100
  • Fourth degree crime: Punishable by up to 18 months in prison
  • Third degree crime: Punishable by a prison term of up to 5 years in prison and/or fine not to exceed $500
  • Second degree crime: Punishable by up to 10 years in prison



  • The actor (with the intent to defraud another) knowingly manufactures/uses/displays/advertises/distributes/sells or possesses with the intent to sell or in conjunction with commercial activities within New Jersey, any item or services identified by a counterfeit mark.
  • An individual has possession or control of more than 25items bearing a counterfeit mark.

Fourth degree:

  • Fewer than 100 counterfeit items;
  • Total retail value less than $1,000; or
  • Offense involves first conviction under the act.

Third degree:

  • 100 or more, fewer than 1000 counterfeit items;
  • Retail value of $1,000 or more, less than $15,000; or
  • Offense involves a second conviction under the act.

Second degree:

  • 1000 or more counterfeit items;
  • Retail value of $15,000 or more; or
  • Offense involves a third conviction under the act.


  • Fourth degree: $100,000 fine
  • Third degree: $250,000 fine
  • Second degree: $500,000 fine
  • Possible civil liability

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Forgery and Counterfeiting Laws: Related Resources

Contact an Attorney About Your Forgery or Counterfeiting Case

Being convicted of forgery or counterfeiting can affect your freedom, livelihood, and your reputation. If you're facing charges, don't risk your future. Contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney today to work toward a positive outcome for your case.

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