Dealing in Counterfeit Obligations of The United States
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
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.