Love wearing those Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Channel but no money to afford? Be careful counterfeiting is a real crime. Producing knockoff designer or branded merchandise, creating, dealing fake currency or goods is a crime of counterfeiting. Investigative agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service are smart and rough when investigating and lining up evidence against such crimes.
If you or your loved one have been accused or charged with counterfeiting money, goods, or documents. Only experience attorneys can fight for your rights on this one, here at Smith & Eulo our lawyers have over 20 years of combined experience in criminal defense and are ready to hear your side of the story and craft a defense strategy tailored to your case, call us now for your free consultation.
What is Counterfeiting?
The crime of counterfeiting involves illegally creating copies of a product, document, or even currency. Counterfeiting is classified as a white-collar crime and may include the falsification of items such as:
- Private labels
- Official signatures
- Checks or other bank documents
- Possession of forged bank documents
- Manufacturing or possessing tools to create counterfeits
- Medical documents
- Identification cards or driver’s licenses
- Blank prescription slips
There are three main types of counterfeiting crimes that are commonly committed, they involve counterfeiting merchandise, counterfeiting money, and documents. All are very serious and will be charged as felonies.
We all want nice designer brands as seen on TV shows, Music videos etc. The Designer brands are very pricey, making it very hard to acquire them. Yet, engaging in the production or selling of counterfeit merchandise to fulfil such desires is illegal. Counterfeit merchandise involves manufacturing goods, usually inferior to the original, and selling them using the brand name without the owner’s permission. Depending on the details of the case, the defendant may also be charged with possessing materials for the purpose of counterfeiting, the prosecution will try to throw every possible charge in order to get a conviction.
In such cases defendants can be arrested by local or federal authorities. Depending on the severity of the offense(s) it will determine if the charges will be prosecuted by the State, or the Federal government will handle the prosecution. The penalty for such crime includes up to ten years imprisonment and fines of or more. In addition, all the merchandise and proceeds of the sale of counterfeited merchandise will be seized by the police. This may also include any proceeds of the sale, even property such as vehicles used to transport counterfeit products or machinery and tools used in their manufacture.
Counterfeit money refers to fake currency, coins, paper money, or even fake bank checks. The government takes the crime of counterfeiting very seriously. The simple possession of a few counterfeit bills may cause serious charges against you, regardless of if you were the one involved in the production of the counterfeited money. In such cases, the prosecution will have to prove you knew the money was fake and intended to make the recipient believe that it was real. If convicted by such crime the defendant could be facing a 20-year prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.
Counterfeited documents involve creating fraudulent driver’s licenses, birth certificates, visas, passports, government documents, and other important documents. Because these are federal documents, the act of falsifying them could lead to severe federal charges.
No intent to defraud: In order for a defendant to be convicted for counterfeiting the prosecutor will have to prove the person being charged had the intent to defraud. A defense attorney may argue there was no intent to defraud or that the defendant had no intent to pass off the counterfeit merchandise, money, or document. This defense can show that the defendant was not involved in the transactions of the crime.
Legal definition of counterfeit is not met: Another common defense to fight counterfeit charges is to argue the items forged does not meet the quality and product of the fraudulent requirement presented to actually be considered counterfeit.
Counterfeit is a federal crime, and you will need an attorney who is a member of the federal district court. Here at Smith & Eulo our lawyers are members of the Middle District of Florida and are ready serve you! We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call, or fill out the contact form on this page to get a hold of our experienced attorneys.