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Defendant Charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument

People v W

2018 NY Slip Op 07926

The court states that pursuant to PL170.10 a sporting event ticket carries with it a legal right, obligation, interest or status. Therefore, the defendant can be prosecuted pursuant to PL 170.25.

The defendant was accused of selling counterfeit tickets and was charged with several counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument under PL170.25. A written instrument is purported to be any kind specified in this code section (Will, credit card, contract, etc.), or any other instrument that terminates the effects of a legal interest.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. He stated that each charge said, “to wit,” that that accused him of being in possession of a counterfeit ticket. The defendant argues that the forgery statute doesn’t cover concert tickets and falls outside the statute. He argues that a concert ticket doesn’t affect a legal right or interest as mentioned in the statute. The statute’s “catch-all” phrase doesn’t apply, as those examples are not of the same character.

The Supreme Court denied the motion. The court stated that a concert ticket does affect a legal right or interest because it gives the holder the right to enter the venue and a view of the performance. The defendant could be correctly prosecuted under PL170.25.

The defendant was arrested for possession of counterfeit tickets. He was charged by indictment. He was charged with 2 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and was convicted of both.

The defendant claims that the indictments are jurisdictionally defective. The appellate court rejected his argument and stated that the tickets are well within PL170.25. The appellate judge granted leave to appeal. This court affirms.

The defendant’s claim that the tickets were a revocable license is true (Peo ex rel Burnham v. Flynn 189 NY 180, 185-186 [1907], Collister v Hayman 183 NY 250, 253 [1905].

It doesn’t mean, however, that a ticket doesn’t affect legal rights. The court wrote a ticket “is a license issued by the proprietor…as convenient evidence of the right of the holder to admission.”

A license, even a revocable one, has legal significance that gives permission for the holder to do what would otherwise be considered a crime. The possession of the ticket affects the holder’s legal status.

An event ticket doesn’t give the holder any interest in real property (Marrone 227 US at 363). After viewing an event, the ticket holder can’t take his seat home. Nevertheless, a license gives the right to go onto a perform an act on the land of the licensor (49 NY Jur Easements and Licenses in Real Property 213).

The order of the appellate court is affirmed.

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