Are you being investigated for federal counterfeiting, or have you recently been charged with a crime? Counterfeiting crimes are serious in nature. The investigating law enforcement agency, which may commonly be the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service, will conduct a thorough investigation to build a solid case against the accused party before charges are filed. With this in mind, your counterfeiting criminal defense attorney should be active in your case as soon as possible.
Counterfeiting is a type of forgery that specifically relates to fraud against the U.S. government. The crime of forgery covers fake items like a college diploma, artwork and other items. Counterfeiting, on the other hand, covers everything from forged postage stamps, currency and securities to a patent letter, military discharge papers, passports and more.
It is important to note that counterfeiting specifically involves the creation of these items with the intent to use them for fraudulent purposes. Other associated crimes relate to the possession of counterfeit items and their usage. There are also associated crimes for having the tools and supplies necessary to make a counterfeit item, for the alteration of motor vehicle ID numbers, for assembling two parts of bills or other items to create a fake item and more.
Penalties for Counterfeiting
Because of the wide range of criminal activities that fall under counterfeiting laws, the penalties for different charges vary. If you are convicted of counterfeiting U.S. securities, for example, you may spend up to 25 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000. However, the penalties can be more severe if the victim of the crime suffered financial loss because of your actions or if the defendant benefited from financial gain. For some crimes, the fine may be increased up to twice the amount of your gain or the victim’s loss. As another example of a counterfeiting penalty, creating fake postage stamps may result in up to five years in prison and a large fine.
In many cases, multiple charges related to the counterfeiting activity may be filed against the accused party. For example, a charge of counterfeiting often comes with charges of fraud, a drug crime, various white-collar crimes and more.
Defense Strategies for Counterfeiting Charges
Often, the prosecutor in a counterfeiting case has a considerable amount of physical evidence that can be presented in court. In such instances, the defendant may believe that a guilty verdict is inevitable, but this is not always the case. When a criminal defense lawyer with specific expertise in counterfeiting is hired, that professional can strategically build a solid defense for the accused. While there are many possible defense strategies, several are commonly used.
For example, because intent to defraud is an essential component of counterfeiting laws, a common defense is to show that the accused party did not intend to use the fake item for fraudulent purposes. If only fake currency was found by the law enforcement officials, for example, it could be argued that the items were intended to be used as a private joke among friends. However, if a Treasury plate was also found, this likely would not be a suitable defense strategy. Keep in mind that possession of a Treasury plate is a criminal act regardless of intent.
Another potential defense is that the fake document’s quality is too poor to be considered a counterfeit. The matter of intent may also be brought up with this argument. For example, the quality is so poor that the accused could not realistically intend to pass it off as a legitimate document or item. Be aware, however, that the entire document does not need to be forged in order for counterfeiting to be proven in court. For example, a conviction is possible even if the back side of a bill is left blank.
Consult with an Attorney
It can take time to build a successful defense against counterfeiting charges, so a criminal defense attorney should be hired as soon as possible. In fact, your attorney may be able to successfully argue that your civil rights have been violated or to negotiate a plea bargain if he or she is involved earlier in the case. If you need to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in counterfeiting crimes, contact the office today by phone or email to request a consultation.
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