False Written Statements in New York
Whether you are a government employee, business owner, or common citizen, you may have become subject to charges of crimes involving false written statements.
Crimes involving false written statements include acts of falsifying business records, tampering with public records, offering false statements for public filing, issuing false certificates, issuing false financial statements, and issuing bad checks.
These crimes typically relate to the submission of some type of false writing, record, submission, or offering to public record, individual, or otherwise.
WORRIED YOU MAY HAVE COMMITTED ONE OF THESE CRIMES?
There are many actions that may be considered false written statement crimes, and they can occur in the regular course of business and daily life. You may have already committed one of the crimes and not yet know it.
Here are examples of instances where charges of false written statements may be filed against you:
- Are you a government employee who entered the wrong information on a file because it was easier?
- Did you exaggerate your income on a state loan application in order to obtain a better interest rate?
- Have you recently been accused of providing false information on business records at your place of employment in order to cover up your shortcomings in performance?
- Have you been accused of providing a false statement in relation to an application for a state license because you didn’t think anyone would notice a little white lie?
- Have you ever written a check knowing that it would bounce due to insufficient funds?
- Have you ever cashed a check given to you by someone you know has no money?
- Are you a doctor who has provided false information for patient Medicare applications?
- Have you ever diminished your income when filing your state taxes?
WHO CAN BE CHARGED WITH THESE CRIMES?
- Business owner
- Public Officers
- ANY CITIZEN! – As you can see, we are all subject to possible charges under False Written Statement crimes since the crimes have a broad reach and apply in various common situations.
Crimes relating to false written statements can be made based on inaccurate filings and records, provided both intentionally and unintentionally.
Charges of crimes involving false written statements can happen to anyone! The severity of the charges often hinges on the intent of the accused, and this could mean the difference between a year and several years in prison!
If you are worried that you could be subject to any false written statement charges, don’t despair, there may be relief and defenses available.
APPLICABLE STATE STATUTES
Offenses Involving False Written Statements fall under Article 175 of the New York Penal Code. Under the Code, the crimes are distinguishable between misdemeanors and felonies, the latter of which could carry very serious jail time and lifelong consequences.
As you review the statutes below, notice that the same crime may be considered a felony simply based on the culpability of the defendant and their intent when committing the acts in question.
175.05 – Falsifying business records in the second degree (Class A Misdemeanor)
A person is guilty if with the intent to defraud he:
- Makes or causes a false entry in business records or
- Deletes or alters an entry of business records or
- Omits an entry in business records or
- Prevents the making of a true entry in business records
175.10– Falsifying business records in the first degree (Class E Felony)
The above crime (175.05) becomes a FELONY when it is done with an intent to commit, aid, conceal another crime.
175.20– Tampering with public records in the second degree (Class A Misdemeanor)
A person is guilty when: Without authority, he knowingly removes, mutilates, destroys, conceals, or makes a false entry in any public record.
175.25 – Tampering with public records in the first degree (Class D Felony)
The above crime (175.20) becomes a felony when it is committed with an intent to defraud.
175.30 Offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree. (Class A Misdemeanor)
A person is guilty when:
- He knowingly
- presents a false statement
- to public office
- With the knowledge, it will become parts of the records.
175.35 Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. (Class E Felony)
The above crime (175.03) becomes a felony when it is committed WITH THE INTENT TO DEFRAUD THE STATE, or he commits the crime the second degree (175.301 – see above) and:
- The statement is a financing statement
- The collateral covered in the statement is the property of a public officer or judge
- And financing statement does not relate to an actual transaction, but instead, the statement is filed in retaliation for the performance of official duties by the officer.
175.40 – Issuing a false certificate (Class E Felony)
A person is guilty when:
- They are a public servant authorized to issue official certificates
- with intent to defraud
- Knowingly issues a certificate containing false information.
175.45 – Issuing a false financial statement (Class A Misdemeanor)
A person is guilty when:
- With intent to defraud
- He knowingly
- makes a statement describing the financial condition of a person which is inaccurate
- He states in writing that an inaccurate description of a person’s financial condition IS accurate when he knows it is not.
190.05 – Issuing a bad check (Class B Misdemeanor)
A person is guilty of issuing a bad check when:
- He writes a check knowing he does not have enough funds to cover it, and
- he intends that payment will be refused by the bank upon presentation and it IS refused.
- He cashes a check knowing that the person who wrote it does not have enough funds to cover, and
- He intends that when the check is cashed that payment will be refused by the bank and the payment IS refused.
***Note that Issuing a Bad Check does not fall under 175 of the NY Penal Code, however, it is closely related as it would, in fact, be a false statement. In addition, you may be subject to issuing a false check in relation to one of the other false statement crimes.
Often, multiple related charges may be made regarding the same action or set of facts. This occurs because one set of facts surrounding your charge typically gives rise to several similar crime possibilities. False Written Statements may be brought in addition to several other related offenses.
- A charge of offering a false instrument (175.30) on a state license application could also subject you to be charged with a more serious offense – Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (170.25) which is a felony! If the crime was committed in a manner where you used someone else’s information, you may likely also be subject to charges of IDENTITY THEFT!
- A charge of offering a false instrument (175.30) by lying on your state taxes may also subject you to various FEDERAL tax fraud charges (felonies).
CASES RELATING TO FALSE WRITTEN STATEMENT CRIMES
- People v. Baurczarski – The Defendant was convicted of offering a false instrument in order to have someone else’s car towed off her property. The defendant, falsely, claimed to be authorized to have the vehicle towed, signed documents, and then “scrapped” by an automobile wrecking company. 2009-1494 D CR (N.Y. Misc. 2011).
- People v. Papatonis – On a job application and state license application, Defendant falsely stated that he had never been convicted of a crime. The Defendant was charged with offering a false instrument and falsifying business records. The Defendant’s charges were dismissed. However, the decision was later overturned on appeal!! 243 A.D.2d 898, 899 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997).
- This is a perfect instance illuminating the importance of having adequate and dedicated counsel fighting for you. The legal process can be (and often is) unpredictable, and you want to be prepared for any possible surprises that may arise…even after a verdict has been decided.
- People v. Myles – The Court found that causing an electric meter to record the amount of electricity used falsely CAN qualify as that falsifying business records. – 58 A.D.3d 889, 890-892 [3d Dept 2009].
- This case is important because it emphasizes that business records can be more than simple paper records. It expands the meaning and places more acts under the scope of the crime of falsifying business records.
- People v. Smith – The Court found that the Defendant could be convicted for falsifying the records of the public defender’s office when he erroneously stated his income. – 300 AD2d 1145, 1146 [4th Dept 2002].
In 2016, Attorney General Schneiderman convicted 8 NYC Vehicle inspectors with the charge of Issuing False Certificates after they issued 13,000 Fraudulent Inspection Certificates! – Read the story on www.ag.ny.gov/.
WHO IS IN CHARGE OF INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS?
The New York State Office of the Attorney General, in counties throughout the state, investigates and prosecutes False Written Statement crimes. In addition, citizens reporting plays a role in this category since many of the crimes often involve some fraudulent act being discovered. Various state departments have hotlines in place to review citizen reports.
The State of New York has several subcommittees set up within the different state departments which assist in investigating and detecting wrongdoing in relation to their departments. A few of these departments and examples of how they play an integral role are:
- The Department of Taxation and Finance – Would investigate false instrument filings and the issuing false financial statement in tax matters.
- The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office – Prosecute filings of false instruments and falsifying business records in relation to state Medicare fraud by a hospital.
- Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation – Would investigate the issuing of a false certificate in relation to vehicle inspection certificates
- Comptroller’s Division of Investigations and The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau – Would investigate and prosecute state pension theft conducted via the offering of a False Instrument for Filing.
There are countless departments, subcommittees, and bureaus, all working together in order to investigate and prosecute individuals. These departments all have a common goal – prosecute and prevent further crimes. As such, it is important to consider what penalties are in place in order to deter criminal actions in the future.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE PENALTIES IF CONVICTED FOR THESE CRIMES?
The crimes discussed vary in sentencing and punishments that can attach. Different circumstances such as repeat offenses, previous felonies, and crimes committed in the commission of your charged crime, could lengthen your jail time.
State law provides maximum sentencing guidelines for each crime classification; however, it is possible to receive LESS than the statutory limits.
Here are the different categories of sentencing:
Class A Misdemeanors – Up to one-year imprisonment or three years of probation + fines.
- 175.05 – Falsifying business records in the second degree
- 175.20 – Tampering with public records in the second degree
- 175.30 – Offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree
- 175.45 – Issuing a false financial statement
Class B Misdemeanors – Up to three months of imprisonment or one-year probation + fines.
- 190.05– Issuing a bad check
- Class D Felonies – Up to 7 years imprisonment + fines.
- 175.25 – Tampering with public records in the first degree
- Class E Felonies – Up to 4 years imprisonment + fines.
- 175.10 – Falsifying business records in the first degree
- 175.35 – Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree
- 175.40 – Issuing a false certificate
THE CONSEQUENCES EXTEND BEYOND JAIL TIME
In addition to the punishments suffered per the state law, the consequences of being convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes are often much further reaching.
A criminal conviction affects all aspects of your life. A conviction could likely result in:
- Loss of employment due to your imprisonment
- Difficulty finding new employment due to your criminal record
- Temporary or permanent loss of your professional licensed
- A tarnished reputation and loss of trust and respect in your community
- Resentment by family and friends
- Losing the right to vote while incarcerated or on parole
- Losing the right to possess a firearm
- Difficulty when applying for loans due to your criminal record
LEGAL DEFENSES TO FALSE WRITTEN STATEMENT CRIMES
There is no doubt that regardless of the crime, a criminal conviction will disrupt your life, sometimes in unrepairable ways.
It is important to get ahead of the prosecution and defend all charges. There are several powerful legal defenses that can be used to fight these charges.
- Section 175.15 includes a statutory defense specifically to falsifying business records. It would be an affirmative defense if the defendant was a clerk, bookkeeper, or other employees who executed the orders of his superior when the falsifying occurred.
- Section 190.15 includes a statutory defense for issuing a bad check. It is an affirmative defense if the defendant pays the amount due in the check within 10 days of the check bouncing or if the defendant was simply acting on orders of his employer.
Other defenses may exist based on the elements of the crime. Some examples of possible defenses include:
- A lack of intent in charge of Issuing a false financial statement – If you issue a false statement due to a miscalculation, this may be a defense to your charge.
- Having authority in charge of tampering with public records – If you remove an entry from the public record, but you were given authority to do so, this may be a defense to your charge.
Lack of intent to defraud in charge of falsifying business records – If you omit an entry in business records but did so innocently without any intention to defraud, this may be a defense to your charge.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
A skilled legal team is key to obtaining the most favorable outcome in your case. It’s essential to have an experienced legal team on your side. Here’s why:
- Unexpected charges can arise out of seemingly “minor” issues.
- A small nuance can turn a misdemeanor into a felony.
- Other related charges may be brought since many crimes are so closely related.
- It’s difficult to predict if the prosecutors may seek other charges.
- Sentencing terms and penalties can vary greatly among defendants.
An experienced legal team will be able to assess the charges and foresee any hurdles that may develop in your case. They will prepare you with how to deal with the charges filed against you. They will work diligently to give you the best defense and make sure that you have the strongest case possible.
If you are convicted, having an attorney by your side can help in negotiating your sentencing terms based on your circumstances. An attorney will vigorously defend your charges and fight for your rights you during this difficult time.
CALL US FOR HELP
For questions about any of the above-mentioned crimes or to discuss your case in confidence with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.
We have local criminal law offices in your area. Don’t risk jail time, mental anguish, and a criminal record. We are prepared to fight for you today. Call us now.