Knowingly Possessing and Using a Forged Document

What Is Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree?

Essentially, third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument is when a person knowingly possesses a written document that is forged and intends to use that document to defraud or deceive someone. While higher levels of the charge specify particular kinds of forged instruments, third-degree possession of a forged instrument can include a wide variety of documents, and it is one of the more commonly charged offenses in the broad group of nonviolent financial “white collar” crimes.

When the Charge of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree Applies

In order to be guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, a person needs to meet several criteria: the instrument in question must indeed be forged; the person who possesses it must know it’s forged; and the possessor must intend to use it to deceive or defraud someone else. Further, New York State penal law defines the “forged instrument” very broadly and can include medical records, computer programs, state-issued identification, and credit cards, among many other examples.

In recent years, New York prosecutors have charged third-degree possession of a forged instrument for people who have used altered MetroCards, fake IDs, and forged parking permits. Moreover, this charge can accompany other related charges, such as larceny or fraud, and convictions of multiple charges can increase the severity of your punishment and the long-term consequences for your life.

NY PENAL § 170.20: Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree

New York’s penal code states:

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree when, with knowledge that it is forged and with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, he utters or possesses a forged instrument.

Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.

What Can Happen to Me if I Am Convicted of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree?

Although this charge is not a felony, it is the highest degree of misdemeanor and you should take it seriously. If convicted, you can spend up to a year in jail or be fined up to $1,000, and there may be long-term consequences for your ability to find employment. Therefore, it is important that, if you are charged on Long Island, you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. There are many successful strategies to defend against a charge of third-degree possession of a forged instrument, such as demonstrating that you did not know the item in question was a forgery or that you did not intend to use it for criminal purposes. These defenses have succeeded before in New York’s courts, and your criminal defense lawyer will know how to secure the best outcome for you.

What Should I Do Next?

If you are charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree in Queens, Nassau, or Suffolk County, take the charge seriously. Do not attempt to “clear things up” with the police or prosecutors. Hire a Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately and let him talk to the authorities on your behalf. He has the knowledge and experience to effectively represent you and to make sure that any impact on your life is minimized.

What Is Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree?
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