A subcategory of forgery and related offenses in the NJ Criminal Code is falsifying or tampering with records. The following is a summary of the law relating to this charge. If you require representation or would like to speak to an experienced defense attorney, a former prosecutor is available for free consultation at 973-710-1520.
Falsifying or Tampering With Records In Violation Of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4
The offense known as falsifying or tampering with records is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. This violation is limited to non-public records as fraud relating to government documents and public records trigger entirely different violations. The New Jersey falsifying and tampering of records law provides as follows:
a. Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, a person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he falsifies, destroys, removes, conceals any writing or record, or utters any writing or record knowing that it contains a false statement or information, with purpose to deceive or injure anyone or to conceal any wrongdoing.
b. Issuing a false financial statement. A person is guilty of issuing a false financial statement, a crime of the third degree, when, with purpose to deceive or injure anyone or to conceal any wrongdoing; he by oath or affirmation:
(1) Knowingly makes or utters a written instrument which purports to describe the financial condition or ability to pay of some person and which is inaccurate in some substantial respect; or
(2) Represents in writing that a written instrument purporting to describe a person’s financial condition or ability to pay as of a prior date is accurate with respect to such person’s current financial condition or ability to pay, whereas, he knows it is substantially inaccurate in that respect.
A violation under 2C:21-4 only occurs, as stated in the statute, where the conduct of the accused is knowing. The second thing that the state must prove is that the accused falsified, destroyed, removed, concealed any writing or record or that the defendant uttered any writing or record knowing that it contained a false statement or information. When these elements have been established, it is a fourth degree crime. Fourth degree tampering/falsifying triggers up to 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
False Financial Statements
The NJ Criminal Code makes distinction between financial records and other non-public records. When someone falsifies or tampers with financial records, 2C:21-4 makes the violation a third degree crime as opposed to a fourth degree crime. The elements which the state must prove in order to sustain this variety of falsification offense are different from those that otherwise apply under the statute. First, the prosecution must establish that the accused had a purpose to deceive or injure. Second, he/she must made or uttered a writing which described a financial condition or the ability to pay. Third, the financial statement must be given under oath or affirmation. Fourth, the financial statement must have contained an inaccuracy that was substantial. Fifth, the accused must have had knowledge of the inaccuracy. A financial statement falsification is, as stated, a third degree crime that carries a $15,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.
For assistance with your pending falsifying or tampering charge, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today in Newark. Our firm can be reached day or night at 973-710-1520. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.