Federal Counterfeiting Crimes Explained

Posted on in Federal Crimes
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe term ‘counterfeiting’ can be used to describe any number of fake articles. Counterfeit art or fake commercial items such as designer apparel can all be considered counterfeits. However, these goods are not covered by federal law. So what is the federal crime of counterfeiting? And what are the penalties one may face? Being charged with the federal crime of counterfeiting is very serious. Anyone that has been accused needs to speak to a Chicago federal criminal defense attorney that can give them the best chance of beating the charges.

Federal Counterfeiting Definition

According to the U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 25, the federal crime of counterfeiting involves producing, possessing, and using false documents that are used to cheat the government of the United States. These include:
  • Currency;
  • Securities, such as stock certificates;
  • Letters of patent;
  • Ship documents;
  • Postage stamps;
  • Military documents;
  • Legal documents including power of attorney documents, deeds, and certificates; and
  • Government documents, such as birth certificates.
While these are the crimes outlined in Chapter 25 of the U.S. Code, there are other federal counterfeiting crimes a person could be charged for as well.

Other Counterfeiting Crimes

Anyone involved in any type of counterfeiting can also be charged with a federal crime. These crimes include:
  • Possessing counterfeit items;
  • Using a counterfeit item and stating or acting as though it is legitimate;
  • Possessing tools used in the production of counterfeit items;
  • Removing or changing the VIN number on automotive vehicles;
  • Pasting portions of notes or bills together to create a counterfeit;
  • Manufacturing, selling, or possessing tokens or other currency substitutes; and
  • Trafficking in counterfeit goods and services.

Penalties for Counterfeiting

The penalties for different counterfeiting crimes vary. For the most common type of counterfeiting, creating false currency, the penalties include up to 25 years in federal prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000. If the accused benefits financially from the crime, or caused someone else to suffer financially, the penalties will be increased. In these instances, the penalties could include doubling the amount that was gained or lost, with the accused required to pay that amount in fines to the court. Issuing false securities also carries steep fines and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. If someone is convicted of counterfeiting postage stamps, the penalties include potential fines and up to five years in federal prison.

Contact a Chicago Federal Crimes Lawyer for Help

Being charged with counterfeiting, or any other federal crime, is very serious. If convicted, a person may spend several years in federal prison, and they will have a permanent mark on their criminal record.

If you have been charged with counterfeiting, call a dedicated Chicago federal crimes lawyer. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney can provide you with the necessary defense to give you the best chances of a successful outcome in court. Do not wait, or try to beat these charges on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation.


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