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New York Forgery Laws

There are several degrees of forgery laws in New York. A person is guilty of basic forgery, or forgery in the third degree, when he or she "falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument" with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another. Forgery will be elevated in degree with respect to the nature of the instrument involved. So, second degree forgery exists where the following instruments are involved:

  • A deed, will, codicil, contract, assignment, commercial instrument, credit card, or other instrument "which does or may evidence, create, transfer, terminate or otherwise affect a legal right, interest, obligation or status";
  • A public record or instrument filed, required or authorized by law to be filed in a public office or with a public servant;
  • A written instrument officially issued or created by a public office, public servant, or governmental instrumentality;
  • Part of an issue of tokens, public transportation transfers, certificates or other articles designed for use as symbols of value, usable in place of money, to purchase property or services; or
  • A prescription of a licensed physician or other person authorized to issue the same for any drug, instrument or device for which a prescription is required by law

An offense will be elevated to the first degree if it involves:

  • Part of an issue of money, stamps, securities, or other valuable instruments issued by a government or governmental entity; or
  • Part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporation or other organization or its property.

Overview of New York Forgery Laws

For more information on New York forgery laws, see the chart below.

Penalties and Sentences

First Degree Forgery: This is a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant's gain from commission of the forgery.

Second Degree Forgery: This is a Class D felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison and up to $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant's gain from commission of the forgery.

Third Degree Forgery: This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.


The possible defenses to forgery include:

  • Lack of intent to defraud, deceive or injure another
  • Lack of knowledge that an instrument was forged
  • Infancy (for persons less than 16 years of age)
  • Mental disease or defect

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.

Further Resources Related To New York Forgery Laws

You can find additional resources related to New York forgery laws by clicking on the links below:

Need Help With A New York Forgery Case? Talk to an Attorney Today

Many forgery cases boil down to the defendant's intent which is not always easy for the prosecution to prove. If you've been charged with forgery in New York, having an experienced criminal defense attorney can make all the difference. An attorney can not only challenge the government's evidence and layout your defenses, but can also negotiate for a plea bargain. Don't leave your case up to chance; meet with a New York defense lawyer today.

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