The United States government has the exclusive authority to print U.S. currency. For this reason, any currency that is not produced in one of the country’s two Mints, which are operated by the Department of the Treasury is not considered valid. Counterfeiting U.S. currency is considered a serious crime and conviction carries the threat of severe penalties, so if you are being investigated for committing a counterfeiting offense, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced felony crime lawyer who can help explain your legal options.
In the United States it is a criminal offense to commit certain acts with the intent to defraud another person, including:
- Fraudulently altering any valid currency;
- Producing counterfeit money;
- Distributing counterfeit money;
- Knowingly attempting to use counterfeit currency;
- Creating or possessing an instrument used to produce counterfeit currency, including metal plates and scanners; and
- Possessing specifically prohibited items, such as certain types of paper used for printing money, security thread, and particular types of ink.
These laws apply to any obligation or security of the U.S., which includes:
- Paper money;
- Treasury bills;
- Gold and silver certificates;
- Certificates of deposit;
- Federal Reserve notes;
- Bonds; and
- Other financial instruments issued by the U.S. government.
Other unlawful actions under the counterfeiting statute include attempting to use or introduce counterfeit currency in commerce. This includes using it to make a purchase, selling it to someone else, or depositing it in a bank. It is also a violation of federal law to commit these acts outside of the U.S. and so can also be prosecuted.
Penalties and Defenses
In order to convict a person for counterfeiting, the prosecutor is required to establish that the defendant had the intent to defraud others when he or she committed the act. In many cases, a lack of intent is a defendant’s strongest defense. However, defendants may also be able to argue that the five year statute of limitations has expired meaning that they cannot be prosecuted for the crime.
In efforts to discourage people from committing counterfeiting offenses, lawmakers instituted especially severe penalties, including jail sentences of up to 25 years and $250,000 in fines.
How a Dedicated South Florida Federal Crime Attorney Can Help
Counterfeiting currency is a criminal offense under both federal and state law and can result in significant penalties, including jail time and fines. Additionally, a person convicted of counterfeiting or forgery will have that offense on his or her permanent record, which can make it difficult to obtain employment and housing. The federal government aggressively investigates and prosecutes these types of offenses, which means that innocent people are inevitably charged by mistake, so if you have been charged with counterfeiting U.S. currency and live in south Florida, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 and we will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced federal crime attorney who is well-versed in the law and can explain your legal options.