New York Penal Law 170.65: Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number & Your Criminal Defense

New York Criminal defense attorneys from Manhattan and Brooklyn to Queens and Westchester County regularly represent individuals arrested or investigated for the crime of New York Forgery in its various shapes and sizes. When the Forgery in New York involves a “written instrument,” the applicable crime, depending on a few factors, is either New York Penal Law 170.05, New York Penal Law 170.10 or New York Penal Law 170.15. The latter two offenses are felonies while the first offense is a misdemeanor. One particular offense relating to Forgery that is applicable to crimes involving cars and other vehicles is New York Penal Law 170.65, Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number.

According to New York Penal Law 170.65, a person is guilty of Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number when, among other potential factors:

(1) He knowingly destroys, changes, alters or even covers the form or appearance of a vehicle identification (VIN) number on any vehicle (car,truck. etc.) and anywhere on that automobile other than the tires.

(2) He gets rid of or removes the VIN unless authorized to do so.

(3) He affixes a VIN to a vehicle (barring it was done in accordance with a statute).

Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.

For those who are unaware, a VIN is a unique number assigned to a particular vehicle and can be found on parts of that automobile, car, truck, motorcycle, etc. For example, on the dashboard of a car by the driver’s side there is a metal bar with a combination of numbers and letters. This is the VIN. If you scratch away a number or letter, change a particular number or letter or remove the VIN number, the crime of Forgery of a Vehicle Identification Number is likely perpetrated. Like any crime, however, there is a requisite mental state. Merely being in a vehicle with an altered VIN number does not automatically make you guilty of this offense. For example, as noted in subsection one (1) above, the person must knowingly act as stipulated. Obviously, the set of facts for each incident requires an analysis to ascertain not merely whether or not you are guilty of the offense charged, but also whether or not the prosecution has the ability and admissible evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Crotty Saland PC is a New York white collar and general criminal defense firm located in Manhattan. Prior to starting Crotty Saland PC, the two founding partners served as prosecutors under Robert Morgenthau in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

Updated: