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Articles Posted in PAPER CRIMES

Vaccine cards have become commonplace in New York, throughout the US and indeed the world.  Like everythingVaccine Card Sample else of value, there has been a black market in fake vaccine cards that has evolved and has taken hold as the vaccine becomes mandatory in so many places.  To make matters worse, as the vaccine initially rolled out, there was an emphasis in getting as many people shots in the arms as possible and not necessarily an emphasis placed on how people could prove that they were vaccinated.  The result, was flimsy, hand written vaccine cards written often sloppily by whoever gave the injection without any nationwide standards for the type of vaccine cards.  To make matters worse many people crossed state lines to try to get the vaccine faster.  Among all of the chaos and the black market in fake cards the question remains, is it illegal to use a fake vaccine card?

In late August a New Jersey woman was arrested and charged in New York City with selling fake vaccine cards for $250 each.  The woman, who  used the name AntiVaxMomma on social media was charged with multiple felonies including Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree.  For an extra $250 an accomplice who worked at a medical facility entered peoples names into the New York State Database.  While the pair has been arrested neither has been indicted and neither has been convicted of any crime.  Both are presumed innocent.

Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument requires that the prosecution can prove that a person knew that the card was forged and possessed the card with the intent to deceive, defraud or injure someone.  New York, specifically rejects an approach that is used in many other states that the unexplained possession of a forged instrument creates a rebuttable presumption of knowledge that it is forged.  Therefore, the prosecution would need to be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was aware that the instrument was forged.   In addition, to be charged in the Second Degree, which is a felony, it must be a certain type of forged instrument such as a prescription, a deed or will, a public record or a document required to be filed with the government, a government issued identification or government issued document, subway tokens or transfers, or currency.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New York forged instrument case involving the possession of what turned out to be counterfeit money. The case provided the court with the opportunity to discuss the elements that must be established to convict a defendant for possession of counterfeit currency in New York.

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer observed the defendant in front of a haunted house attraction. The defendant had an unmarked brown paper bag in his hand, and was drinking something from a can or bottle contained in the bag. As the officer approached, the defendant ran. Believing the bag to hold a prohibited alcoholic beverage, the police officer gave chase. Upon catching the defendant, the officer found two bags of crack cocaine and currency in the defendant’s pockets.

The currency was divided into two pockets. In one pocket was a loose wad of bills totaling $148. In the other pocket was a wad of 17 bills bound together by a rubber band. After taking a closer look at the wad of 17 bills, the officer suspected that they were counterfeit, and the defendant later admitted that they were counterfeit.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York forgery case discussing whether concert and sport event tickets can fall within the statute governing criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. Ultimately, the court concluded that tickets to concerts or sporting events affect the possessor’s legal rights, and therefore fall within the statute. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions. If you have questions about any aspect of criminal law, it is crucial to reach out to a New York criminal defense attorney to get answers.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant was arrested in possession of counterfeit concert tickets. Subsequently, he was arrested again for counterfeit sporting event tickets. In each case, the defendant was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree which is described in New York Statutes section 170.10. Under that statute, a person is prohibited from falsely making, completing, or altering a written instrument with the intent to defraud another. This prohibition applies to deeds, wills, contracts, and any “other instrument which [impacts] a legal right, interest, obligation or status.”

The defendant argued that the tickets were merely revocable licenses and that they did not affect a holder’s legal rights. He also argued that a concert ticket or ticket to a sporting event was nothing like the other items listed in the statute, and thus were not intended to be covered by the statute. The defendant’s argument was rejected by the trial court, and he subsequently entered a guilty plea to the charges. On appeal, the defendant argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, essentially making the same argument as he did at trial.

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