People v. Walley
Court Discusses Buying and Receiving of Stolen Goods
The Defendant was indicted for Criminally Buying and Receiving Stolen Property as a Felony, Criminally Concealing and withholding as a Felony, Knowingly have in his possession a motor vehicle the identification mark of which had been altered, destroyed or removed for the purpose of concealment or misrepresenting the identity of the said motor vehicle and willful uttering with intent to defraud and possession with intent so to do of a forged instrument or writing knowing the same to be forged. The defendant purchased a motor vehicle from an admitted thief for $2,500.00. The lawful owner paid $5,570 for the new vehicle. The defendant purported that the vehicle needed substantial repairs as such it worth the final sale price of $2,500.00. The defendant stated that he had no knowledge that the vehicle identification number was changed or altered. However, the thief who sold the defendant the vehicle stated that he told him that he would not be arrested for the car because the numbers were changed. DWI was investigated.
At the trial there was evidence adduced by the criminal prosecution to show that the vehicle was duly registered by the New York State Department by the defendant. Proof was also offered by the prosecution that the identification number in the certificate was the purported altered number and therefore spurious. As a result of the overwhelming evidence that was presented the prosecution relating to the registration of the vehicle, it sought to indict the defendant with the charge of uttering a forged instrument. However, the trial judge dismissed the count of uttering a forged instrument because of substantial defects according to section 881 of the Penal Law and Section 426 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.
The Court was of the opinion that section 881 of the Penal Law appeared to include general forgery concept and there must be reference made to section 2051 of the Penal Law there is a prohibition of offering of a false or forged instrument to be filed or recorded in any public office. The certificate of registration merely containing spurious language on its face cannot be the subject of a forgery count. The defendant should have been charged under section 426 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law as it specifically provides that any person who know makes any false statement of a material fact in any endorsement of a certificate of registration, upon a sale or transfer of a motor vehicle or who with intent to procure or pass title to a motor vehicle or has reason to believe, has been stolen, shall receive or transfer drug possession of the same from or to another, or who shall have in his possession any motor vehicle which he knows or has reason to believe, has been stolen, and who is not an officer of the law engaged at the time in the performance of his duty as such officer shall be guilty of a felony. As a result the fourth count of the indictment was dismissed.
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