A business owner or employee tasked with recordkeeping has a legal obligation to ensure that all records are accurate. Failure to maintain factual records with the purpose of deceiving or injuring another is a crime under New Jersey law. Falsifying or tampering with records is an indictable offense (felony) and can result in prison time and a hefty fine.
What Are the Penalties for Falsifying Business Records in NJ?
This offense can be charged as a fourth-degree or third-degree offense. Falsifying business records in the fourth degree can result in a prison sentence of 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction. If charged as a crime of the third degree, one can be sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison plus a fine of $15,000.
The difference in severity depends on the type of records that have been tampered with. Falsifying or tampering with financial records is a third-degree crime. All other types of records are considered fourth-degree.
What Is Considered Criminal Falsification of Business Records in New Jersey?
New Jersey does not prosecute any minor error in recordkeeping. The statute which defines criminal falsification and tampering of records states that a person can be charged if a record is altered, destroyed or concealed “with purpose to deceive or injure anyone or to conceal any wrongdoing.” With respects to financial records, prosecutors must prove that the accused:
- Knowingly made or uttered 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
- Represented 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.
Defenses to Falsifying Business Records in New Jersey
The best defense to a charge of falsifying or tampering with records in NJ depends on the facts of the case. Generally speaking, to convict a person of this crime, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt. The first is that the records in question were false. The second is that the accused intended to deceive, injure or conceal. Therefore, a reasonable defense would focus on establishing doubt or disproving one or both facets of the statute. In many situations, a person’s best option may be to have their attorney negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges to a lesser offense (a.k.a. a plea bargain).
Why Hire an Attorney for a Charge of Falsifying Business Records in NJ?
A person who is convicted of falsifying or tampering with business records in New Jersey faces serious prison time and a hefty fine. Depending on the circumstances, such an indictment may be accompanied by other charges such as fraud, forgery, or tax evasion. As such, it is critical that a person facing indictment for such crimes hire an experienced attorney. An attorney can look at the facts of the case and determine the most effective defense strategy. The right attorney will scrutinize the legality of how any evidence was obtained to ensure that any unlawfully uncovered evidence is suppressed (meaning it cannot be used in court). An expert attorney will also know when it makes the most sense to fight a charge and when it would be wise to negotiate a plea bargain.
Who Should I Contact?
Anyone facing a charge of falsifying or tampering with business records in New Jersey 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 888-815-3649 for a free consultation.