Counterfeiting is a crime that most people are aware of. In general, when most people think about counterfeiting they immediately start to think about someone illegally trying to copy money and then pass it off as real money. While this is the most common form of counterfeiting, the crime actually refers to a much broader sense of creating a fake item or bank note and trying to pass it off as real.
Examples and Punishment
Depending on the type of counterfeiting, someone that is charged with the crime could be facing a lot of penalties in terms of fines and even imprisonment. The crime can be considered a state crime, but is often brought to the federal level. If it involved copying and creating a fake bank note or other currency, it will automatically be considered a federal crime and could also be considered a felony depending on the amount of money that is being made through the counterfeiting process.
Most of the time, chargers are brought out on people that are in possession of counterfeit items and try to pass them off as real. This is a serious form of fraud in which you are technically defrauding the recipient of the fraudulent bill and the US Government. The penalties from this can be severe and can include imprisonment in federal prison for as much as 25 years. However, the amount of time you will spend in prison will vary considerably based on the scope and size of the crime.
Another situation in which you could be charged with counterfeiting is if you simply hold machinery, materials, and other equipment that can be used for counterfeiting. You will typically be given an additional charge if it is determined that you are holding these items and have used them for counterfeiting purposes in the past.
If you are charged with counterfeiting, there are a number of different ways that you could go about defending the charges. One of the most common is to simply state that you did not know that the bills or other goods you held were fake. If this is a small isolated incident, this is likely a very good defense that could help you to have the charges dropped.
If the evidence of the crime was found through an illegal process, you could also have the charges dropped. This is especially true if the police officers did not have a warrant to search you or your home.
Benefits of Legal Support
Since criminal counterfeiting is such a serious crime and charge that can come with some very severe penalties, it is almost always a good idea to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you are charged. A lawyer will be able to work with you and the prosecutors to develop a good defense plan. In many situations, this can include taking a plea deal to a lesser charge. This may allow you to avoid getting out of jail time completely. However, you will likely be on a strict probation for a period of time.