New Jersey Forgery Charges Relating to Improper Use of Personal Identifying Information

The scope of the crime of forgery has been expanded in recent years. Specifically, to curb cyber crimes, the Criminal Code amended the legislative acts with respect to the “information” aspect. For the forgery crimes “information” includes but is not limited to personal identifying information. “Personal identifying information” means any name, number or other information that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual and includes, but is not limited to, the name, address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, official State issued identification number, employer or taxpayer number, place of employment, employee identification number, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number, mother’s maiden name, unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image or other unique physical representation, or unique electronic identification number, address or routing code of the individual.

Because of the surge in computer hacking related theft and forgery crimes, these pieces of personal information are frequently traded on the “dark web” and black market. As a third degree crime, if convicted, you will face up to five (5) years in a State Prison for your forgery offense.

What is Forgery Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1?

In a prosecution for forgery the state must prove three (3) material elements. First, it must prove 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. Second, it must be proved that there was a writing of another. Third, it must be proved that 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 with knowledge of the alteration or fraudulent practice done to the writing. Typically, the government will prove these elements of forgery through evidence obtained either from the defendant’s personal computer used in the crime.

What are the Penalties if Convicted of Forgery in New Jersey?

The degree of the forgery offense will vary depending on the type of forgery involved. 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 personal identifying information or access device. If the writing is or purports to be a check, it is a crime of the third degree. Forgery is a crime of the third degree if the writing is or purports to be fifteen (15) or more forged or altered retail sales receipts or universal product code labels. In all other cases forgery is a crime of the fourth degree. If convicted of forgery as a third degree offense the defendant will face up to five years in prison, while a fourth degree forgery conviction carries up to eighteen (18) months.

Facing charges for forgery or some other theft-related offenses? Whether or not they involve computer criminal activity, the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are available to help handle your case. Contact an attorney today, 24/7 at 1 (800) 879-9087, or fill out a contact request form.