Articles Posted in Identity Theft and Forgery

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We have discussed the forgery laws in New Yorkin general. This post will cover the a common type of arrest in New York City: underage people being caught with a fake ID or New York State Driver’s license. Many young people in the greater New York City area carry a fake ID in order to get into bars before they are 21. While this seems to be a fairly innocuous reason to carry a fake ID, the law in New York can be quite unexpectedly severe. Consider the base forgery statute, which criminalizes the possession of any “forged instrument,” which is defined as a “written instrument which has been falsely made, completed or altered.”

PL 170.00(7). Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree: “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.” PL 170.20.

These provisions work to actually criminalize the possession of a fake or forged driver’s license. However, prosecutorial experience teaches us that that in certain situations, having something like this can actually lead to felony charges. This is because the next level up in the statutory scheme reads as follows:

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Under New York state law, it is a serious crime to knowingly make or use counterfeit money with the intent to deceive or defraud another. The applicable statutes are Class C non-violent felonies, meaning that someone convicted of this crime (as a first felony offense) can be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of from 1-3 years or as much as 5-15.

First, a person is guilty of Penal Law 170.15 (Forgery in the First Degree) when, with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, he or she falsely makes, completes or alters a written instrument which is or purports to be, or which is calculated to become or to represent if completed: 1) Part of an issue of money, stamps, securities or other valuable instruments issued by a government or governmental instrumentality, or 2) Part of an issue of stock, bonds or other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporate or other organization or its property.

Obviously, there are some terms in the definition above that require some explaining. The Penal Law provides the following:

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The arrest of a friend or loved one often happens unexpectedly. The majority of New Yorkers do not have any experience with the criminal justice system and are often thrust into a position of having to deal with the possibility of bail being set. This post will explain a few factors that go into a judge’s decision as to whether to set bail, explain what steps should be taken immediately before the arrested person sees the judge, and finally, if bail is set, will explain the basic process.

First of all, the question may arise, “What is bail?” Bail is simply a condition set forth by the Court that the defendant must first comply with before he can be released from the custody of the New York City Department of Corrections. In most cases, that would be an amount of money designated by the judge in either cash or bond. The difference between these two methods of bail will be explained later.

It should be noted that in the case of many first-time offenders, no bail will be set at all. This is because the purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant returns to court to answer for the charges. Contrary to popular belief, bail is not supposed to be “preventative detention,” or a way to prevent people from committing future crimes. Thus, if a defendant is an otherwise law-abiding citizen, and the charge is not serious enough to warrant bail, a judge may simply release him or her on their own recognizance. This is sometimes called “ROR.” In other cases, however, a judge may determine that a certain amount of bail is appropriate even for a first time offender. The criteria that the judge will consider is set forth in the Criminal Procedure Law:

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Many people are arrested for signing someone’s name on a contract, letter, or other writing each year. However, forgery encapsulates much more than the act of simply another’s name. In fact, as we can see from the following recent New York forgery news stories, there are several documented cases of forgery which do not fall readily to mind:

  • A teacher falsifying a student’s report card;
  • A DMV supervisor allowing for cheating on a commercial driver’s license test; and
  • Forgery of prescriptions to obtain illegal drugs.

There are many different kinds of “forgery;” however, the purpose of this post will be to explain, in part, the reference of that term in the New York State Penal Law.

Of course, if you have been arrested for Forgery or Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in New York, you need to contact a seasoned Manhattan-based lawyer experienced in dealing with forgery cases. As former prosecutors in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, the lawyers at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP are particularly suited to assist you in defending against any and all such charges.

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The New York Post reported recently on a case that is currently being tried in a Manhattan courtroom involving a man, Rafael Golb, who is, according to the story, “accused of going over the line and using criminal means to target rivals of his dad, noted Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Norman Golb.” The top charge? Identity Theft in the 2nd Degree. Specifically, Mr. Golb appears to be charged with assuming the identity of another person by presenting himself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person to commit such crimes as forgery, criminal personation, and aggravated harassment.

The full text of the Identity Theft statute is below:

§ 190.79 Identity theft in the second degree. A person is guilty of identify theft in the second degree when he or she knowingly and with intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person by presenting himself or herself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person, and thereby: 1. obtains goods, money, property or services or uses credit in the name of such other person in an aggregate amount that exceeds five hundred dollars; or 2. causes financial loss to such person or to another person or persons in an aggregate amount that exceeds five hundred dollars; or 3. commits or attempts to commit a felony or acts as an accessory to the commission of a felony; or 4. commits the crime of identity theft in the third degree as defined in section 190.78 of this article and has been previously convicted within the last five years of identity theft in the third degree as defined in section 190.78, identity theft in the second degree as defined in this section, identity theft in the first degree as defined in section 190.80, unlawful possession of personal identification information in the third degree as defined in section 190.81, unlawful possession of personal identification information in the second degree as defined in section 190.82, unlawful possession of personal identification information in the first degree as defined in section 190.83, unlawful possession of a skimmer device in the second degree as defined in section 190.85, unlawful possession of a skimmer device in the first degree as defined in section 190.86, grand larceny in the fourth degree as defined in section 155.30, grand larceny in the third degree as defined in section 155.35, grand larceny in the second degree as defined in section 155.40 or grand larceny in the first degree as defined in section 155.42 of this chapter. Identity theft in the second degree is a class E felony.