You may be accused and charged with check forgery if you were found to alter a check or found in possession of a fake check. This is considered a form of identity theft, which is taken quite seriously in the state of New Jersey. Read on to discover what the penalties for check forgery are and how one of the seasoned Bergen County criminal defense attorneys at McNerney & McAuliffe can come to your defense.
What are the penalties for check forgery in the state of New Jersey?
New Jersey law defines forgery as the crime of creating or altering a document or other instrument without the proper authorization to do so and with the intention of defrauding another party. The state also considers forgery when an individual uses a document or other instrument while knowing it is forged or while knowing they did not create it.
Checks are one of the most commonly forged items in the state of New Jersey. Doing so is considered a disorderly persons offense, a fourth-degree offense, a third-degree offense, or a second-degree offense. Namely, the penalties for check forgery are dependent on the amount of money the check was written for. Examples include the following:
- If a bad check is written for $200 or less (i.e., disorderly persons offense):
- Jail time of up to six months.
- Fines of up to $1,000.
- If a bad check is written for anywhere between $200 to $1,000 (i.e., fourth-degree offense):
- Imprisonment of up to 18 months.
- Fines of up to $10,000.
- If a bad check is written for anywhere between $1,000 to $75,000 (i.e., third-degree offense):
- Imprisonment of anywhere between three to five years.
- Fines of up to $15,000.
- If a bad check is written for $75,000 or more (i.e., second-degree offense):
- Imprisonment of anywhere between five to 10 years.
- Fines of up to $150,000.
What should I do if I am accused of forging a check?
Your accusation of forging a check can, in reality, be an honest mistake. For example, you may have just been writing out a check for your elderly family member with their granted permission. However, this may be misconstrued as theft or coercion. Or, you may not realize that you do not have enough funds in your account to cover a check you gave out.
Whatever the case may be, You must not take these accusations lightly, as you can likely conclude from the aforementioned list of serious penalties. Rather, you must do everything in your power to reduce or altogether eliminate the charges placed against you, specifically via a plea bargain. And you should not go through any of these steps without the proper legal representation.
With all that being said, we recommend that you consult with one of the competent Bergen County criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible. Schedule your initial consultation with us today.