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Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

Third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument is a crime that can have serious consequences on a number of levels. If you face the prospect of being prosecuted for this crime, you need to have an essential understanding of what is associated with the charge. You also need to understand what steps you need to take to protect your legal rights and interests.

Overview of a Charge of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

Third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument is codified at New York Penal Law 170.20. Pursuant the law, if you know that you have an instrument in your possession that is forged, you are deemed to possess that instrument with the intent to defraud or deceive another person.

Knowing possession of a forged instrument in the third degree is classified as a level A misdemeanor. This is the most serious classification of a misdemeanor. However, misdemeanors are lesser crimes when contrasted with felony offenses.

What Constitutes Forgery?

Pursuant to New York Penal Law, even what may seem like a minor alteration of a financial instrument can constitute forgery sufficient to give rise to the crime of third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Any alteration, addition, or deletion of a financial instrument can rise to the level of forgery.

What Constitutes Knowing Possession of a Forged Instrument?

If you altered a financial instrument yourself, you obviously will be deemed to be in knowing possession of that financial instrument. On the other hand, if you take possession of a financial instrument that has been altered in some manner by someone else, and you know of the change, you will be deemed to be in knowing possession of a forged instrument.

There can also be a situation in which you receive a forged instrument but do not have actual, definitive information that it has been altered. However, you receive the financial instrument under a set of circumstances that would lead any reasonable person to know or believe that it had been altered. In that set of circumstances you will be deemed to be in knowing possession of a forged instrument.

Defenses When Charged with Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

There are a number of defenses that can be raised when facing a charge of criminal possession a forged instrument. One primary defense is that you did not know the instrument in question was forged. In addition, part of that defense would be that you reasonably could now have known that an instrument was forged.

Another defense to a charge of third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument involves the instrument itself. You can defend against this type of charge by demonstrating that the instrument itself was not forged in any way, shape, or form.

Penalty Upon Conviction of Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

If you end up convicted of third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, you can end up facing up to a year in jail. Because this is a misdemeanor offense, you do not face the prospect of going to a New York state prison or correctional facility. Rather, any period of incarceration will be served in a jail.

The court has the ability to sentence you to a period of incarceration that is less than one year, with a year term being the maximum. Depending on your criminal history, if any, coupled with the specific facts surrounding your case and charge for third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Retain a Skilled, Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a charge of third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, you best protect your legal rights and interests by taking a proactive stance to retaining legal representation. The first step in retaining legal representation in a case involving criminal possession of a forged instrument is scheduling an initial consultation.

During an initial consultation, a criminal defense attorney will be provide an evaluation of your case. This will include a discussion of potential defenses in the case. As a matter of general practice, a criminal defense attorney charges no fee for consulting with a person facing a charge of criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Keep in mind that the criminal justice system can proceed apace. In that regard, you truly should not delay in seeking appropriate legal representation when faced with a criminal charge.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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