Running any kind of business is complicated and requires meticulous recordkeeping. Sometimes, when those records are not well kept or business dealings are recorded improperly, a person can be charged with falsifying business records. Not just any erroneous record can result in this charge; a prosecutor must be able to prove that the accused personally benefited (or sought to) from the false records.
What Are the Penalties for Falsifying Business Records in New York?
The exact penalties will depend on the severity of the charge. Falsifying business records in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor in New York, punishable by up to one year in jail. Falsifying business records in the first degree is a class E felony, which can lead to up to four years in prison.
What Does it Mean to Falsify Business Records in New York?
New York State defines a business record as any writing, including computer data, maintained by a person or entity for the purpose of evidencing a “condition or activity.” It is not only the business owner who can be charged—any person who willfully forged or altered documents for personal gain can be indicted under NY law.
To be charged with falsifying business records in the second degree, the prosecution must prove a person intentionally did one or more of the following:
- Made a false business record.
- Caused a false business record to be made
- Altered or erase a truthful entry in a business record.
- Omitted a truthful statement from a business record.
- Prevented a truthful statement from being made.
To be charged with falsifying business records in the first degree, the same criteria as above applies, plus the prosecution must show that the accused intended to carry out or conceal an additional crime, such as committing tax fraud (i.e. by altering receipts to make it look like the business earned less than it did).
A falsified business record includes more than just accounting and financial matters. For example, a nurse or doctor who signs out drugs to be administered to a patient but instead takes them for him/herself has violated NYPL 175.05.
Defenses to Falsifying Business Records in NY
The language of the law includes two natural defenses that may or may not apply to a specific case, depending on the facts. The first is that the person who altered the records intended to benefit. If it is not possible to receive a benefit from the alteration, and the person was acting under orders of a supervisor, then the person accused may be able to avoid conviction.
Why Hire An Attorney to Beat a Charge of Falsifying Business Records?
Not everyone who makes or modifies a business record is intending to commit a type of fraud. Sometimes people make mistakes or fail to properly record things. However, due to the seriousness of the charge and the potential for jail time, it is critical that a person charged with falsifying business records hire an attorney. The attorney can examine the facts of the case to build a solid defense. This includes scrutinizing how evidence was uncovered by the prosecution, the legal basis for any police searches, and the validity of any statements made to police or corroborating witnesses. Where applicable, an attorney can argue for evidence that is improperly obtained to be “suppressed” (meaning it can’t be used in court).
Who Should I Contact for Help with a Charge of Falsifying Business Records in NY?
Anyone facing a charge of falsifying business records in New York urgently needs the help of an experienced attorney. At Rosenblum Law, our expert attorneys can offer a strong defense based on the facts of the case, providing the best possible chance of avoiding a conviction and the resulting consequences. Contact us at or Call 888-815-3649 for a free consultation.