What Should I Know About Check Forgery in New York?

pen and check

Whether you knowingly or unknowingly tried to cash in a forged check, you may not have expected to end up in handcuffs after your trip to the bank. Being charged with check forgery is a serious crime that can impact the rest of your life. If you’re facing charges for this offense, you should not take this lightly. It’s essential to understand the penalties and why you need a Nassau County fraud lawyer to help you navigate the charges against you.

What Constitutes Check Forgery?

Generally, any time you falsify, alter, or forge a check to collect money that does not belong to you, it constitutes check forgery.

The most common kind of check fraud occurs when a blank check is stolen from the owner. A thief will then fill out the check with the holder’s information to exchange for cash or to make purchases. In most instances, the check’s owner may not realize they’re missing one until the money is gone from their checking account.

However, check forgery may also occur through a process known as check washing. This often happens when the check is in the mail or in transit from the paying party to the intended recipient. A thief will steal mail to locate a check before carefully using chemicals to wash the ink off the check, leaving the signature of the paying party. They will then fill out the rest of the information, often writing out a substantial amount of money and paying it to themselves.

What Are the Penalties for This Offense?

In New York, those charged with check forgery will face significant penalties based on the amount of money they have allegedly stolen.

Generally, you will face prison time and fines for this offense. If you have stolen less than $1,000, you can expect up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 or double the amount you are suspected to have gained from the check fraud. The more money stolen via check fraud, the longer the prison sentence will be. For example, someone accused of forging a check between $3,000 and $50,000 can expect imprisonment of up to seven years.

What Should I Do if I’m Accused of Forgery?

If accused of check forgery, the most important thing you must do is contact an experienced fraud attorney as soon as possible. A criminal conviction can impact the rest of your life, hindering employment opportunities and your ability to travel freely.

Enlisting the help of an attorney can provide you with the best chance at a defense. For example, an attorney may be able to prove you are employed by an elderly couple who requested help when writing checks, or that you were given the forged check by another party under the guise that it was intended for you.

At the Law Office of Jacob A. Rudman, our dedicated criminal defense team will examine the circumstances of your arrest to help determine the best course of action. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through these challenging times.

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