Felony Falsifying Business Records: Understanding the Limited Conduct that can give Rise to PL 175.10 in New York

A somewhat infrequently used section of the New York Penal Law, First Degree Falsifying Business Records is nonetheless not only a serious crime, but on where an arrest can land you in prison and with a felony record. Is Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree as serious as Second Degree Grand Larceny or, for that matter, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument? The short answer is no. These two crimes, PL 155.40 and PL 170.25, are class “C” and “D” felonies respectively while PL 175.10 is a class “E” felony? What does this all mean you ask? Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is punishable by as much as seven years in prison and First Degree Falsifying Business Records is “merely” punishable by up to four years in prison. That said, unlike the aforementioned crimes, PL 175.10 is often associated with more significant crimes and each time there is a falsification a new criminally chargeable offense has occurred.

With your general grasp on the significance and severity of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, this blog entry will further address this crime while also addressing the elements of PL 175.10.

New York Penal Law 175.10, First Degree Falsifying Business Records occurs when an accused intends to defraud and makes (or causes) a false entry to be made in the business records of an enterprise (think Citibank, a small accounting firm, a restaurant or Target), alters or erases in any way these business records, omits to make a true entry in these records, or prevents the making of a true entry. To make an accused’s action rise from the misdemeanor to felony level, there must also be an intent to commit another crime or cover up a crime.

In People v. Krebbeks, 2016 NY Slip Op 4863 (4th Dept. 2016), the defendant reported to the bank that an unauthorized person withdrew money from his bank account through his ATM card. In doing so, the defendant filled out paperwork reflect dates and amounts of withdrawals that he contended another person made. Upon reviewing these transactions and the video evidence preserved at ATM machines, the bank confirmed that in fact the defendant made the withdrawals. As such, the information he provided was not merely inaccurate, but the defendant knew it was false and wrong. Further, it was clear that the purpose of this false report was to get monies from the bank which he was not entitled to receive. In other words, the defendant sought to perpetrate a larceny crime.

Adding up the defendant’s actions and reviewing them in the context of PL 175.10 as described above, the defendant’s behavior satisfied the elements of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. While the defendant may have only violated the statute once, its very easy to extrapolate this crime out further and into multiple offenses. Why, because if he filled out paperwork falsely or caused an employee to do the same, then each time this occurred so did a new class “E” felony punishable by up to one and one third to four years in prison. If the value exceeded, $1,000, $3,000, $50,000 or even $1 million, then the defendant would have also faced a Grand Larceny crime as well.

Each set of facts are unique, but the law never changes. If the elements of a crime are satisfied, then it makes no different what entry was altered or made and the type of business that was intentionally defrauded. While you may be reading this blog entry after you made a mistake or are accused of a crime, its not too late to educate yourself on the law through the links contained here and below.

The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients accused of and arrested for any degree of Falsifying Business Records an related NY White Collar crimes in New York City and numerous surrounding municipalities and suburbs. Both founding members served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prior to establishing the criminal defense law firm.


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