Selling, duplicating or buying a fake a government-issued vaccination card is a serious offense, particularly during a global pandemic. COVID-19 vaccination cards are issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and there are a variety of crimes that can be prosecuted surrounding unauthorized duplications. The consequences can be severe and may include jail time and/or thousands of dollars in fines.
Prosecutors portray the sellers as opportunists who have access to authentic, blank CDC vaccination cards, and exploit social media as a means for entering into the highly illegal fake card market.
The buyers include unvaccinated adults and minors – or those whose ages have not yet qualified them for the COVID vaccine – hoping for access to places and events that require proof of vaccination.
NYC Criminal Defense lawyers have their work cut out for them in this area of law. For example, the NYC Criminal Defense Lawyers of D’Emilia Law represent a client who was arrested for allegedly engaging in related illegal vaccination card sales. The charges in the client’s arraignment include:
- One count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D felony [PL 170.25]; sentences can include up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
- One count of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree “… with intent that conduct constituting a crime be performed,” a Class A misdemeanor [PL 105.05]; sentences may include a jail term of up to a year, a probation term of up to 3 years, and a fine.
As you will see below, these charges mirror other recent high-profile cases in New York City.
The Start of an NYC Criminal Law Trend
On Aug. 31, 2021, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., filed charges in Manhattan Criminal Court against 15 individuals involved in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card conspiracy. Two of the 15 defendants are being prosecuted for selling and forging the cards; the 13 purchasers are also charged.
The (combined) charges against the sellers include:
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, one count.
- Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count.
- Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, one count.
According to the DA’s statement, there is substantial evidence that many of the defendants, including one seller, are believed to work in public-facing or other essential-employee settings – including hospitals, medical and nursing schools, and nursing homes.
Those 13 accused of purchasing are each charged with one count each of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree. One of the individuals is also charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for paying to be entered in the New York State Immunization Information System database; this offense is punishable by up to four years in prison.
This area of criminal law is expanding in real-time and justice departments across the country are cracking down on COVID-related fraud crimes in an effort to curb the spread of black market activity, as similar announcements were recently made in Chicago, Illinois and Colorado.
Defrauding the government is a serious offense and D’Emilia Law advises everyone to avoid taking part in any illegal activity. If you are arrested for allegedly producing, selling or purchasing fake vaccination cards in New York, contact the NYC Criminal Defense Lawyers of D’Emilia Law.
Contact an NYC Criminal Defense Lawyer
D’Emilia Law maintains that an arrest is not the end of your life. It is not the same as a conviction. A strong and strategic defense can uphold your innocence, keep you out of jail and reduce your charges and fines.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any crime in New York, contact D’Emilia Law, criminal defense lawyers in NYC. Schedule a consultation by contacting us at 1-888-DEMILIA.