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.