Forgery charges in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S. 2C:21-1. A person is guilty of forgery if he or she:

  • alters or changes another person’s writing without that person’s consent,
  • creates, or helps to create, a writing that falsely appears to be on behalf of another person, or on behalf of a fictitious person,
  • intentionally writes or copies wrong information
  • falsely represents a writing to be a copy of an original, where no original existed, or
  • speaks about any writing that he or she knows is forged

The person MUST either:

(1) have the intent to defraud or injure another person


(2) know that he or she is facilitating the act of a fraud or injury.


What is a “writing”?

A writing is anything that symbolizes a value, right, privilege or identification (including personal identification information). Examples can include printing or any other method of recording information, money/coins, stamps/seals, credit cards, checks, badges, trademarks, sales receipts, or any access devices.


How bad is the charge?

Forgery is a crime of the third degree if the writing is, or is portrayed to be:

  • part of an issue of money, securities, postage or revenue stamps, or other instruments;
  • part of an issue of stock, bonds or other instruments representing interest in or claims against any property or enterprise, personal identifying information or an access device;
  • a check;
  • a certificate or license issued by the government;
  • a prescription; or
  • 15 or more forged or altered retail sales receipts or universal product code (UPC) labels

Otherwise, forgery is a lesser crime of the fourth degree.

A third degree crime has a state prison range of three (3) to five (5) years but does not contain a presumption of incarceration. This means that, if the defendant has no prior record, a probationary sentence is possible. On a fourth degree charge, eighteen (18) months in the maximum jail sentence imposed.