New York Penal Law 170.65: Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number and Your Criminal Defense
New York criminal law recognizes several degrees of the crime of forgery. A person is guilty of basic forgery, or forgery in the third degree, when he or she “falsely makes, completes or alters a written instrument” with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another. Several terms in the above definition must be explored to fully understand the scope of the offense.
New York Criminal defense attorneys from Manhattan and Brooklyn to Queens and Westchester County regularly represent individuals arrested or investigated for the crime of New York Forgery in its various shapes and sizes. When the Forgery in New York involves a “written instrument,” the applicable crime, depending on a few factors, is either New York Penal Law 170.05, New York Penal Law 170.10 or New York Penal Law 170.15. The latter two offenses are felonies while the first offense is a misdemeanor. One particular offense relating to Forgery that is applicable to crimes involving cars and other vehicles is New York Penal Law 170.65, Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number.
Under the New York forgery statute, an offense will be elevated to the first degree if, with the requisite intent, a person falsely makes, completes or alters written instruments purporting to be (a) part of an issue of money, stamps, securities, or other valuable instruments issued by a government or governmental entity; or (b) part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other instruments representing interests in or claims against a corporation or other organization or its property.
Defenses to Forgery Charges • Lack of intent to defraud, deceive or injure another • Lack of knowledge that an instrument was forged • Infancy (for persons less than 16 years of age)
• Mental disease or defect
According to New York Penal Law 170.65, a person is guilty of Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number when, among other potential factors: (1) He knowingly destroys, changes, alters or even covers the form or appearance of a vehicle identification (VIN) number on any vehicle (car, truck. etc.) and anywhere on that automobile other than the tires. (2) He gets rid of or removes the VIN unless authorized to do so. (3) He affixes a VIN to a vehicle (barring it was done in accordance with a statute). Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.
For those who are unaware, a VIN is a unique number assigned to a particular vehicle and can be found on parts of that automobile, car, truck, motorcycle, etc. For example, on the dashboard of a car by the driver’s side there is a metal bar with a combination of numbers and letters. This is the VIN. If you scratch away a number or letter, change a particular number or letter or remove the VIN number, the crime of Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number is likely perpetrated. Like any crime, however, there is a requisite mental state. Merely being in a vehicle with an altered VIN number does not automatically make you guilty of this offense. For example, as noted in subsection one (1) above, the person must knowingly act as stipulated. Obviously, the set of facts for each incident requires an analysis to ascertain not merely whether or not you are guilty of the offense charged, but also whether or not the prosecution has the ability and admissible evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In New York, forgery convictions range in nature from class A misdemeanors for basic forgery, to class C felonies for forgery in the first degree. A defendant convicted of basic forgery will be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of up to one year, and will be committed to the custody of the state department of corrections and community supervision for the term of his or her sentence until his or her release. The court may also impose a fine of up to $1,000 for commission of the crime.
Conviction of a class C felony, on the other hand, is punishable by a mandatory sentence of imprisonment of up to 15 years, in which the defendant will likewise be committed to the custody of the state department of corrections and community supervision for the term of his or her sentence until his or her release. The court may also impose a fine which is the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant’s gain from commission of the forgery.
Are you facing forgery cases? Seek the help of a New York Forgery Attorney and New York Criminal Defense Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.