California Business & Professions Code Section 21672(A) BPC: Manufacturing, Producing Or Distributing Counterfeit Sports Trading Cards

counterfeit sports trading cards1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Many people are surprised to learn that sports trading cards are a highly regulated business. Certain cards can be extremely valuable and courts and the legislature recognize that this is an area ripe for forgery or counterfeiting. Under California Business and Professions Code Section 21672(a) BPC, manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards is a criminal offense that can result in significant penalties for those convicted.

To prove that a person is guilty of manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards, the following elements would have to be established beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant knowingly manufactured, produced or distributed unlicensed or counterfeit sports trading cards
  2. AND the defendant had the intent to deceive, injure or defraud another.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Manufacturing or Selling a Counterfeit Mark – California Penal Code Section 350 PC
  2. Forgery – California Penal Code Section 470 PC
  3. Manufacturing or Selling Counterfeit Identification Cards – California Vehicle Code Section 13004.1 VC
3. Examples

A man knows that baseball cards for popular players can sell for substantial amounts. The man uses his home computer to design a baseball card that looks very professional. He prints the card on quality paper and offers the card for sale. The man does this without permission from Major League Baseball. This man could be prosecuted for manufacturing, producing and distributing counterfeit sports trading cards in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 21672(a) BPC.

In another example, a man runs a professional printing company. One day a customer comes to him with an order for several thousand cards featuring the pictures and profiles of popular professional athletes. The customer tells him that he is fully licensed to produce these cards even though he is not. The man prints up the order and provides them to the customer, who subsequently sells them to unwitting collectors. The print shop owner would not be criminally liable under California Business and Professions Code Section 21672(a) BPC because he did not knowingly manufacture or produce counterfeit cards.

4. Defenses to Manufacturing, Producing or Distributing Counterfeit Sports Trading Cards

As described above, if the defendant did not knowingly or intentionally manufacture, produce or distribute counterfeit and/or unlicensed sports trading cards, he or she would not be criminally liable under California Business and Professions Code Section 21672(a) BPC.

5. How Manufacturing, Producing or Distributing Counterfeit Sports Trading Cards Cases Are Defended

Typically, an investigation for manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards will be initiated after a complaint is filed by a sports organization or a licensed trading card company who discover the existence of a counterfeit product. The case will be investigated and could ultimately be submitted to a District Attorney or City Attorney for potential criminal filing. In 2010, the Los Angeles City Attorney sent the Los Angeles Police Department a memo stating that violations of California Business and Professions Code Section 21672(a) BPC should only be filed as infractions unless supported by a lengthy written description showing why misdemeanor charges are warranted.

If the prosecutor opts to file criminal misdemeanor charges, the defendant would have to appear in court to answer to those charges. If the defendant does not reach a plea agreement with the prosecution, the case would proceed to trial. At trial, the prosecutor would be required to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

6. Penalties

A person convicted of manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards can be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail and pay extensive court fines. Upon conviction of this offense, the defendant would be required to refund the buyer the full amount paid for the unlicensed or counterfeit sports trading card or the full retail value of any nonmonetary consideration received, or both.

In addition, the defendant would be liable for a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation. Each card sold is considered a separate violation.

7. Criminal Defense for Manufacturing, Producing or Distributing Counterfeit Sports Trading Cards Cases

If you have been charged with manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is highly adept at fighting cases like this.

For more information about manufacturing, producing or distributing counterfeit sports trading cards, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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