Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations of The United States

(18 U.S.C. § 473) What Is Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations?

In Southern California Federal Courts, the United States Central District of California, prosecutors will often charge defendants with Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations, more commonly referred to as the selling of counterfeit items. The main law that sets out the elements and punishments for this crime is 18 U.S.C. § 473. Anyone who buys or sells any United States currency, obligations, or securities with the intent to pass them as genuine can be charged under this statute.

What Elements Need to be Established to Charge Someone With Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations?

The prosecution needs to prove that a defendant bought, sold, exchanged, transferred, received, or delivered any false, forged, counterfeited, or altered ‘obligation or other security’ with the intention that it be passed, published, or used as true and genuine.

What Is an “Obligation or Other Security?”

An “obligation or other security” includes, for example, bonds, bank currencies, federal reserve notes, coupons, treasury notes, gold or silver certificates, certificates of deposit, bills, checks, money orders. An ‘obligation’ is counterfeit if it looks so similar to the real thing that it would deceive an honest and unsuspecting person using ordinary care and observation abilities. It does not need to be so perfect that you need special tools to determine its authenticity.

What Does “to Pass or Utter” Mean?

“To pass or utter” means to offer the counterfeit item to another person or to a bank, with intent to defraud them. The prosecution doesn’t have to prove that anything of value was actually received in exchange. Also, it’s still a crime even if the counterfeit item or forgery is not actually accepted. Merely trying to use it will count as attempting to ‘pass’ the item.

Who Can be Charged With Passing or Possessing Counterfeit Bills Under 18 U.S.C. § 472?

A person can be charged with Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations even if they are not caught during the act of creating the counterfeit items. If you are found with counterfeit notes in your possession, you can be charged with Passing or Possessing Counterfeits if there is evidence that you intended to pass them off as genuine and use them. If you try to pay for items in a store with a counterfeit bill, you could be charged.

Are There Defenses to Charges of Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations?

The most important element of the charge is that the defendant intended that the counterfeits be passed or used as true and genuine. This can also be the hardest element for prosecutors to prove. If you created or possessed the counterfeit items for prop-purposes or as part of an art piece, and never intended to pass them, that could be a defense to the charge. Another possible defense would be that you did not know that the bill was counterfeit. The prosecution needs to prove that a defendant knew the note, bill, security, or obligation was counterfeited to be able to convict someone under this statute.

What Are Some Related Offenses?

Related offenses include:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 471 – Counterfeiting Obligations of the United States
  • 18 U.S.C. § 472 – Passing or Possessing Counterfeit Obligations of the United States
  • Penal Code § 470 – Forgery
What Are the penalties for 18 U.S.C. § 473?

The judge can compare a defendant's conduct with their prior criminal history and other factors such as how affected any potential victims were in order to determine the ultimate sentence. The maximum punishment for federal Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations is felony charges punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a fine up to $250,000.

Criminal Defense for Cases of Federal Passing or Possessing Counterfeits

Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations is a serious offense. Federal law in this area can be charged as a felony and the punishment can be incredibly harsh. If you or a loved one have been arrested for or charged with Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations, it is critical that you discuss your case with a knowledgeable federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands how to effectively defend clients charged with White Collar offenses and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best defense possible.

For more information about Federal White Collar and Counterfeiting charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.