Counterfeiting Defense Lawyer
Under 18 U.S.C. § 472, certain types of Counterfeiting and Forgery are punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years.
The Oberheiden, P.C. provides experienced and aggressive legal representation for individuals and businesses charged with counterfeiting. We handle all types of counterfeiting charges, including those involving currency (foreign or domestic), documents, and goods.
Counterfeit Money and Securities Explained
For good reason, the federal government takes counterfeiting extremely seriously. In 2011, the Secret Service seized $261 million in counterfeit currency. Assuming that this was all of the counterfeit money in the United States at the time (which no doubt it wasn’t), this would mean that potentially $8 out of every $1,000 circulating in the United States was counterfeit.
There are several federal laws pertaining to the creation, distribution, and use of counterfeit currency. Federal statutes prohibit:
- Holding, passing, publishing, selling, importing, or attempting to pass, publish, sell or import, any counterfeit currency or other security of the United States with the intent to defraud.
- Buying, selling, transferring, receiving, or delivering any counterfeit currency or security with the intent that it be passed off as a genuine obligation of the United States government.
- Possessing any imprints, digital images, or other impressions made for the purpose of creating counterfeit money or securities, or selling any of these with the intent to defraud.
- Making, forging or passing any counterfeit foreign currency or securities with the intent to defraud.
In addition to currency and securities, federal counterfeiting laws also provide severe punishment for making, forging, or trafficking in various types of counterfeit documents. These include:
- Bids, proposals, and agreements for federal government contracts
- Documents issued by lending institutions, such as insured credit unions, certain banks, and the FDIC
- Documents pertaining to imports or the collection of customs duties
- Federal court documents
- Public records and affidavits counterfeited for the purpose of defrauding the U.S. government
- Seals of federal agencies
- U.S. Postal Service stamps and meters
Similar to crimes involving counterfeit money, the government will need to prove that you knew you were using or submitting a forged or counterfeit document. Along with challenging the element of intent, there are numerous other defenses our attorneys will be able to raise your behalf as well.
A third form of counterfeiting involves creating or trafficking in counterfeit goods. Dealing in counterfeit goods is a crime under federal criminal code, and also has serious consequences under the Lanham Act, which is the law that protects trademark owners against infringement. At Oberheiden, P.C., we handle cases involving all types of counterfeit goods, including:
- Credit cards
- Jewelry and watches
- Passports and IDs
Defending Against Counterfeit Currency Charges
As with many (but not all) federal crimes, one of the common elements among all of these various forms of counterfeiting is intent. For the government to convict you of counterfeiting, the prosecutor will need to prove not only that you were in possession of counterfeiting materials or involved in a transaction involving counterfeit currency, but that you intended to defraud or pass off counterfeit currency as real money. If you lacked this criminal intent for example, if you used counterfeit money not knowing it was counterfeit you should not be convicted of counterfeiting.
Penalties for Counterfeit Currency
For most federal crimes involving counterfeit currency, the possible punishment includes fines up to $250,000 or twice the amount of gain or loss caused by your criminal activity, plus up to 20 years in federal prison. However, if you are convicted of possessing items used for counterfeiting the U.S. or foreign currency, the maximum prison sentence increases to 25 years.
Penalties for trafficking or even attempting to traffic in counterfeit goods include:
- $2,000,000 in fines and 10 years prison time for a first offense (for businesses, the maximum fine is increased to $5,000,000)
- $5,000,000 in fines and 20 years prison time for a second or subsequent offense ($15,000,000 fine for businesses)
- Forfeiture or destruction of counterfeit goods and materials used for counterfeiting
- Restitution of those harmed (financially or physically) by the counterfeit goods
If the counterfeited goods cause a serious injury, the prison term for a first-time offense can increase to 20 years. In cases involving death, counterfeiters can face life in federal prison.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Oberheiden, P.C.
If you have been accused of attempting to pass off counterfeit money, documents, or goods, you need experienced legal representation. Failure to present a strong defense will likely lead to immense fines and years if not decades behind bars. At Oberheiden, P.C., our experienced criminal defense attorneys and former federal prosecutors are available for a free, confidential case evaluation. Call (888) 727-0472 or contact us online today.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.