New Jersey Criminal Forgery Law

We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1; New Jersey criminal forgery complaints and indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.

New Jersey criminal forgery law prohibits fraudulent practices that include deceitful conduct.

In a prosecution for forgery the state must prove three elements.

First, that defendant acted with a purpose to defraud or injure another or with knowledge that he was aiding another to injure or defraud a third person.

Knowledge or purpose may be inferred from the fact that the defendant is attempting to cash a forged instrument.

Second, a writing of another.

Third, the writing was altered by defendant without consent or the writing must have been completed, executed, authenticated, issued or transferred in one of five specified fraudulent ways, or it must have been uttered - offering of an instrument as genuine accompanied by words or conduct to indicate it is genuine - with knowledge of the alteration or fraudulent practice done to the writing.

The forger commits the offense even if he gives the document to another to pass as authentic.

The state is not required to prove that any specific person was injured or defrauded because it is enough to prove the conduct - altering or uttering - uttering is offering of an instrument as genuine accompanied by words or conduct to indicate it is genuine - was done with a purpose to defraud anyone or any entity in general.

Hence, under New Jersey criminal forgery law, three types of conduct constitute forgery.

First, altering or changing writing of another without authorization.

Second, making, completing, executing, authenticating, issuing or transferring any writing in order that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize it or when in fact that person or corporation is fictitious.

Third, uttering - offering of an instrument as genuine accompanied by words or conduct to indicate it is genuine - of writing which defendant knows to be forged in any of the prohibited manners previously described.

It is not necessary to prove that a person was injured or defrauded for there to be an uttering of forged instruments.

If a person utters five checks at one time, it is a single transaction and it constitutes one offense.

Consent is a defense to a charge of altering or changing a writing.

Ratification after the act will not render the alteration or change noncriminal.

The state need not prove that the defendant obtained anything or injured anyone as a consequence of the forgery.

If in fact the uttering is successful and the defendant obtains money as a consequence of the forgery or fraud, the forgery or fraud offense merges into the theft change.

Conviction for theft by deception by means of uttering a forged instrument will merge with the conviction for forgery.

Forgery is a crime of the third degree if "the writing is or purports to be a document issued by the government including money," a New Jersey Prescription Blank or part of an issue of stock, bonds or other instruments representing an interest or claim against any property or enterprise, or access device.

In all other cases forgery is a crime of the fourth degree.

For example, neither the forgery of a name to a savings account withdrawal slip nor the forgery of a name to a check is the forgery of a writing which purports to be an issue of money.

Hence, these forgeries are crimes of the fourth degree.

Under New Jersey criminal forgery law related behavior of possession of forgery devices is also prohibited.

First, the device must be designed or adapted for use in forgery.

Second, defendant either possessed or made the device.

Third, defendant must have had the purpose to use or permit another person to use the device for purpose of forging written instruments.

If you have any questions for a NJ criminal defense attorney about a New Jersey criminal forgery charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.