Forgery in New Jersey

In New Jersey (2C: 21-1) the crime of forgery occurs when someone intentionally defrauds another or knowingly facilitates such fraudulent activity. It may be committed by making alterations or modification to someone else's writing without their permission. The offense may occur when someone “makes, complete, executes…” any writing as being created by another person without their permission. Writing refers to any forged article, document, check, etc.

Grading for Forgery Offenses

Depending on the nature of a forgery offense, it may be charged at a level of up to the second-degree. It is a third-degree offense when it involves money, government certificates, postage, New Jersey Prescription Blanks, stocks, or property claims. It is also a third-degree offense when involving a forged check, retail sales receipt, or UPC label. Forgery involving documents or articles of lesser importance is charged as a fourth-degree offense.

Possession of Forgery-Related Devices

A device is generally defined as being “a tool or technique used to do a task.” Possession of forgery devices occurs when someone has and intends to use, or facilitates someone else's usage of writing instruments or information used for personal identification. It also may include any “apparatus, equipment, computer, computer software, or article” that is either designed or been modified in order to commit forgery. It is a third-degree criminal offense.

Proving Possession of Forgery-Related Devices

There are several elements that must be satisfied to prove (2C:21-1c), which must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant made a forgery device. The term made does not require that the individual actually created the device, such as through using “raw materials.” It may be that the individual revised, altered the shape of, or otherwise changed some device.
  • This device is designed to be used or altered in a manner that allows it to be used to conduct forgery.
  • The defendant intended to use the device, or intended to facilitate or aid another person to use the device to commit forgery.
  • It is necessary to establish intent, meaning that the defendant was acting consciously or purposely.

Forgery Involving False Government Documents

In (2C: 21-2.1), the provisions address the crime of forgery when false government documents are involved. This may be committed when someone intentionally offers to sell a false item such as a license to operate a motor vehicle, a birth certificate, or some other type of key document that is issued by the government or its agencies. This document is such that it may be used to confirm someone's identity or age. This crime is charged as a second-degree criminal offense. This also applies when someone has possession of devices or some materials used to create these key documents that are government issued.

Underage Usage of Identification

The offense involves usage of someone else's identification in order to unlawfully purchase alcohol or tobacco products that they are not old enough to buy. This act is charged as a disorderly person offense. In addition to any penalties imposed for this offense, the court may impose a driver's license suspension for a minimum period of six months and up to a maximum of two years.

If the offender's driving privileges are already suspended, this suspension period will begin after the other has ended. When the suspension of driving privileges is imposed, the offender then must acknowledge the suspension in writing. A failure to acknowledge will not be an acceptable defense if the individual is found to be operating a vehicle illegally during the suspension period.

Offense Level

Incarceration Period

Maximum Fine

Second Degree

5 to 10 years

Up to $150,000

Third Degree

3 to 5 years

Up to $15,000

Fourth Degree

18 months

Up to $10,000

Disorderly Person Offense

6 months

Up to $1,000

Counterfeit Currency

One common criminal offense involving forgery is possessing or usage of fake currency. According to the U.S. Secret Service, there is in excess of $140 million in fake currency in circulation internationally, with over half being U.S. currency. Although the government has continued to develop better ways to distinguish legitimate currency, advancements in digital technology often benefit counterfeiters.

Trademark Counterfeiting

State statute (2C:21-32) addresses crimes associated with counterfeiting under the New Jersey Trademark Counterfeiting Act. A counterfeit mark is a fake mark that is either “identical” or “substantially indistinguishable” from one that has been legitimately registered with U.S. Patent and Trademark agencies or with the New Jersey Secretary of State. The marking may be a word, badge, symbol, insignia, etc.

The crime is committed when someone knowingly uses deception to defraud another by manufacturing, advertising, selling, or possessing with the intention of doing so, any item that bears a counterfeit mark. The crime is committed when the offender possesses a minimum of 25 items that bear the trademark. The offenses are graded as follows:

  • If there are less than 100 items and the total retail value is less than $1,000, then the crime is a fourth-degree offense.
  • If there are between 100 and 1,000 items that bear the trademark and the value is determined to be between $1,000 and $15,000, then the crime is a third-degree offense.
  • Anytime that an individual is convicted that has been convicted of a prior offense, then the crime is charged as a third-degree offense.
  • If there are in excess of 1,000 items bearing a counterfeit mark and the total value exceeds $15,000, the offense is upgraded to a crime of the second-degree.

The retail value is defined as the “regular selling price” for the product or service that bears the forged trademark. Defendants may also be subjected to civil actions that seek monetary compensation.

How Your Defense Attorney Can Help

Proving a case involving allegations of forgery requires that the prosecution satisfy several key elements beyond a reasonable doubt. A seasoned lawyer is able to analyze the facts and evidence in order to create an effective strategy of defense. You should choose legal counsel that has years of experience in this realm of practice.

Lawyer Defends Allegations of Forgery in New Jersey

Those who are convicted of crimes related to forgery may face harsh penalties including a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Joseph D. Lento is a tenacious defense attorney that will work to protect your rights and freedom. Contact the office today for a consultation by calling (888) 535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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