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Falsifying Business Records

About Falsifying Business Records

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The New York legislature has created two distinct degrees for the crime of falsifying business records. If you find yourself accused of this crime, contact an experienced Manhattan white collar crimes lawyer immediately.

A person is guilty of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree when the person, with the intent to defraud, either: (i) Made or caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise; (ii) altered, erased, obliterated, deleted, removed, or destroyed a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; (iii) omitted to make a true entry in the business records of an enterprise in violation of a duty to do so which they knew to be imposed upon them by law or by the nature of their position; or (iv) they prevented the making of a true entry or caused the omission of a true entry in the business records of an enterprise.

A person is guilty of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree when the person does any of the four acts listed above and when the intent to defraud includes the intent to commit or conceal any other crime.

Examples for Further Clarification

An example of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree is when a bookkeeper at a retail store knowingly and intentionally neglects to document in a spreadsheet the sale of a particular dress. If that same bookkeeper did so because they wanted to pocket the money for the dress rather than report it, then they are guilty of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree because their intent to defraud included the commission of another crime (the stealing of the money).

Under New York law, both degrees of falsifying business records have an affirmative defense. This affirmative defense, which is listed in Penal Code Section 175.15, essentially states that if the accused person was a clerk, bookkeeper, or other employee and the person was merely acting on the orders of a supervisor and the person received no personal benefit from the act, then the person is not guilty of either of these crimes. Like with all affirmative defenses, however, this defense does not immunize the person from arrest or prosecution. It is still the duty of the accused to prove at trial, through a preponderance of the evidence, the exculpating facts to prevail with this defense.

Falsifying Business Records in the First and Second Degree can be a serious crime that can be brought in conjunction with other crimes.

If you or a loved one is accused of either of these crimes, do not hesitate to contact John Buza, an experienced white collar crimes lawyer in Manhattan, for a free consultation.

Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree

Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 175.10. It is a class E felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of a class E (non-violent and non-drug) felony, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before they are eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 1 1/2 to 3 years and the maximum is 2 to 4 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

For the government to sustain a conviction for Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, the government must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

It must prove:

  • The person either: (i) made or caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise; (ii) altered, erased, obliterated, deleted, removed, or destroyed a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; (iii) omitted to make a true entry in the business records of an enterprise in violation of a duty to do so which they knew to be imposed upon them by law or by the nature of their position; or (iv) they prevented the making of a true entry or caused the omission of a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; and
  • The person did so with the intent to defraud that included an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.

Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree

Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 175.05. It is a class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of a class A misdemeanor may be sentenced up to one year in jail.


For the government to sustain a conviction for Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, the government must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

It must prove:

  • The person either: (i) made or caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise; (ii) altered, erased, obliterated, deleted, removed, or destroyed a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; (iii) omitted to make a true entry in the business records of an enterprise in violation of a duty to do so which they knew to be imposed upon them by law or by the nature of their position; or (iv) they prevented the making of a true entry or caused the omission of a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; and
  • The person did so with the intent to defraud.

Falsifying business records is a crime. Feel free to contact John Buza, an experienced white collar crimes lawyer in Manhattan, for a free consultation if you or a loved one is accused of this crime.

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