Counterfeiting is a federal offense that involves possessing, producing, or using fake notes and documents with the intent to defraud the U.S. government. If you’ve been charged with these crimes, you’re likely facing fines up to $250,000 and a maximum 25-year prison sentence.
Because the government takes counterfeiting crimes seriously, fighting these charges can be challenging. It often involves confronting tough prosecutors with U.S. government backing. If you’ve been accused of falsifying documents or printing fake money, talk to a Los Angeles counterfeiting attorney from the Simmrin Law Group.
What Counts As Counterfeiting Under Federal Law?
Counterfeiting is a crime that refers to purposefully imitating something authentic (often money) to replace, steal, or destroy it – or trick individuals into thinking the counterfeit item is equal to or has greater value than the original thing. It is considered a white-collar crime.
Although the term generally relates to producing fake commercial products, such as art or handbags, this activity is usually prosecuted under fraud or trademark infringement rather than counterfeiting laws.
Instead, a federal counterfeit crime involves producing, possessing, and using fake items that attempt to defraud the U.S. government or its citizens. The production and use of bogus money are the most well-known counterfeit crimes, but they are not the only activities classified as counterfeiting.
The penalties for federal crimes tend to be harsher than crimes prosecuted at the state level. Additionally, federal prosecutors tend to have many more resources available to them, so a defendant will have a more difficult time winning their case. It is critical that you have the help of an experienced Los Angeles, CA federal crimes lawyer to help level the playing field.
For a free legal consultation with a counterfeiting lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 896-2723
The Different Types of Counterfeiting
All forms of counterfeiting are considered federal offenses and are taken seriously by the courts. Federal counterfeit crime laws cover the following items:
Fake Currency and Government Bonds
U.S. coins and bills are the most typical materials for counterfeiting. However, for these schemes to rise to the level of federal crimes, the fake currency must look similar enough to the real thing that it would confuse an unsuspecting consumer or retailer.
Legitimate U.S. bills and coins are minted and backed by the federal government; however, fake money is created without the government’s legal sanction. Spending counterfeit currency in exchange for goods is equivalent to stealing and is illegal in every country.
Fake government bonds are printed to resemble public debt instruments but have no legal endorsement. Instead, they are produced as collateral to secure legitimate lines of credit or bank loans, or they’re cashed in for genuine currency.
If you were accused of producing or passing off fake documents, you could be charged with a felony. Examples of falsified documents that fall under the umbrella of federal counterfeiting are:
- Securities, including stocks and bonds
- Postage stamps
- U.S. patents
- Ship’s papers, including documents relating to the vessel’s ownership, cargo, and safety
- Military documents like passes, permits, or discharge papers
- Legal documents which may consist of:
- Powers of attorney
Besides possessing fake documents, counterfeiting crimes can include owning the tools and material to produce counterfeit items. This could be charged as a separate offense by the prosecution.
Additionally, it’s considered illegal to buy, sell, trade, transfer, or deliver counterfeit material.
Los Angeles Counterfeiting Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What If I’m Accused of Counterfeiting Money in Los Angeles?
Counterfeiting currency is a significant charge often investigated by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Secret Service, the FBI, Homeland Security, and other federal agencies.
If you’ve been accused of a counterfeit crime, the first thing you should do is speak with a Los Angeles counterfeiting defense attorney about the specifics of your case. Don’t risk facing charges from the federal government without an experienced legal team on your side.
What if I’m Charged With Security or Document Counterfeiting?
Charges involving counterfeit securities or documents will be investigated and prosecuted by one of three federal agencies:
- Department of Homeland Security: The Department of Homeland Security investigates document and benefit fraud related to immigration crimes, including human smuggling and human trafficking.
- Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force: This task force investigates counterfeit charges tied to criminal organizations.
- Secret Service: The Secret Service investigates most other fraudulent document charges, including fake IDs and telecommunications fraud.
All these agencies have in common that they come backed with vast resources to investigate and prosecute crimes. Federal prosecutors draw on the expertise of these agencies to present very tough cases in court.
If you are being investigated for any of these charges, you need more than just an ordinary defense lawyer. You need someone with experience fighting the feds and winning cases in federal court. A counterfeiting lawyer in Los Angeles from Simmrin Law Group can help.
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What Are the Penalties for a Federal Counterfeiting Conviction?
Federal counterfeiting offenses in Los Angeles are prosecuted by the U.S. government and tried in federal courts rather than county or state courts. As a result, investigations into federal crimes tend to be probed with intensity, and every facet of your life, especially your finances, are placed under scrutiny.
Punishments handed down by federal courts are often significantly harsher than violations of the state penal code. Additionally, these sentences can become more severe with second and third offenses.
Federal Penalties for Counterfeit Money or Securities
Federal punishment for creating U.S. counterfeit money, U.S. securities, and foreign securities produced inside the U.S. include:
- A fine of up to $250,000
- Up to 25 years in prison
Federal Penalties for Other Counterfeit Charges
Penalties for other counterfeit charges vary depending on the specific case. They can include:
- Forging counterfeit coins: If you minted coins over five cents or produced gold or silver bars, you could serve up to 15 years in federal prison
- Attempting to use counterfeit coins: If you tried to spend coins over five cents or trade gold or silver bars, you could do up to five years in federal prison
- Counterfeiting postage stamps: Printing counterfeit stamps could get you up to five years in federal prison
- Putting two or more notes together to forge a counterfeit note:Falsifying a counterfeit note using two or more notes could give you a 10-year sentence in federal prison if you’re convicted
If the prosecution claims you defrauded somebody from your counterfeit currency, you should beware that they may try to tack on extra penalties.
Specifically, if the counterfeit act resulted in a gain or loss to anyone other than you, the prosecution may try to garner fines up to double that amount.
What Defenses Can I Use in a Counterfeiting Case?
Facing federal criminal charges for counterfeiting may seem like an uphill battle; nevertheless, it’s up to the government to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Thankfully, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will strive to undermine the prosecution’s evidence and poke holes in their case.
Therefore, the best defense for you will depend on the specifics of what happened. Potential defense strategies we have employed in the past include:
- Lack of intent: A vital component of any counterfeiting case is whether the defendant meant to convince others that the fake item is, in fact, genuine. In cases of producing counterfeit notes or documents, you may not be guilty if you didn’t intend for the material to be used fraudulently.
- Rights violations: The evidence against you could be suppressed or disallowed from the case if it was gathered through police misconduct or illegal search and seizure.
- Lack of knowledge: If you were caught with counterfeit currency or documents in your possession but didn’t create them, you could make a case that you weren’t aware it was fake.
- Lack of substantial evidence: A skilled defense lawyer will launch their investigation and review every piece of evidence the prosecution has. If the evidence doesn’t support the charge, you could win in court or get the case dismissed.
Counterfeit cases are fiercely prosecuted, yet that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to win. If you’ve been charged with a counterfeit crime, you need to talk to an experienced Los Angeles counterfeiting attorney right away.
Talk to a Counterfeiting Lawyer in Los Angeles for Free
The Simmrin Law Group has assembled the best lawyers in California to present top-tier strategies against federal counterfeiting charges. Several of our attorneys have spent their careers successfully defending individuals like you against federal charges.
Our Los Angeles counterfeiting lawyers are here to help you get the best possible verdict. We utilize custom strategies that get results against even the toughest prosecutors. In many cases, we’ve helped clients avoid prison time or even walk away with no penalties. Contact us for a free consultation. Then, let’s get started building your defense today.