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What Qualifies as Counterfeiting?

Counterfeiting is a term used to describe a range of unlawful activities that involve the production of forged documents. Counterfeiting is a federal crime, which means that conviction comes with harsh penalties. To ensure that you are not convicted of this, or another type of white collar crime, it is critical to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you begin formulating a strong defense.

Prohibited Conduct

Although many people associate counterfeiting with the creation of fake currency, the reality is that federal law applies to a variety of documentation, including:

  • Securities;
  • Letters patent;
  • Postage stamps;
  • Ship’s papers;
  • Military documents, including permits, passes, and discharge papers;
  • Bonds;
  • Public records;
  • Legal documents, such as deeds, powers of attorney, certificates, contracts, and receipts; and
  • Government documents.

Federal law prohibits not only the possession of these types of counterfeited documents, but also their production and use, which includes:

  • Attempting to pass off a counterfeit document as legitimate;
  • Possessing tools used to produce counterfeit documents;
  • Pasting together or combining parts of bills, notes, or other instruments to create a fraudulent document;
  • Selling counterfeiting equipment or tools; and
  • Making, possessing, or selling counterfeit money substitutes.

Many counterfeiting prosecutions include separate charges for each action associated with a counterfeit document, even if there was only one.

International Counterfeiting Charges

Even those who commit one of these offenses outside of the U.S. can be convicted under federal counterfeiting law if they:

  • Make, deal in, or possess any counterfeit U.S. contract, debt, or other security; or
  • Make, possess, or deal in any digital, electronic, or analog image, or other object that is used to counterfeit a U.S. security or contract.

As long as the act would constitute a violation of federal law if it had been committed within the U.S., a defendant can be punished for actions taken outside of the country. Penalties for a counterfeiting conviction depend on the specific item that was allegedly counterfeited. For instance, counterfeiting U.S. securities comes with a fine of up to $250,000 and 25 years in prison. Issuing false securities, on the other hand, is punishable by a maximum 20 year prison sentence, while those who are convicted of forging postage stamps could face up to five years in prison. Penalties are also enhanced in cases where the crime resulted in financial gain for the defendant or when another party suffered a financial loss.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Dedicated White Collar Crime Lawyer

Counterfeiting is a serious offense, punishable by significant jail time and hefty fines, so if you have been charged with counterfeiting, you need the advice of an attorney in Miami. For a free evaluation of your case, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 today. A member of our legal team is standing by to address your white collar crime-related questions and concerns.

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