Georgia Counterfeit Money Defense Lawyer
When you use a $20, $50, or $100 bill to make a purchase at a retail store you might notice that the cashier holds the bill up to the light or makes a mark on it with a special marker. Cashiers take these steps to figure out whether the banknotes you are spending are real U.S. currency, legally issued by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, or whether they are fakes. Counterfeit money is the legal term for fake bills, also known as funny money. In our lifetimes, the government has changed the appearance and manufacturing process of banknotes in order to make them harder to counterfeit. If you are in your 30s or older, the “big bills” that were in circulation in your childhood looked quite similar to one-dollar bills; they were simply printed in shades of green. Anyone in possession of green ink and enough drawing talent could make a fake. Today’s banknotes are fancier and harder to fake, but counterfeit money remains in circulation. If you are facing criminal charges related to counterfeit money, contact the Norcross, Georgia financial crimes defense lawyers at Zimmerman & Associates.
Creating, Possessing, or Spending Counterfeit Money
Under federal law, using counterfeit money to defraud the recipient is a felony. Whether you are the one printing the banknotes, or if you are simply spending the money and hoping that the cashier will not realize that it is not real, the consequences can be the same. If you are convicted in federal court of possessing, spending, or creating counterfeit banknotes, the maximum sentence is 20 years in prison. That means that you could end up watching five presidential inaugurations on a prison television set just because you had a fake dollar bill in your wallet. If that sounds excessive, it is, which is why you need a criminal defense lawyer.
Counterfeit Money and Georgia’s Forgery Law
Under state law, producing counterfeit money is a first-degree felony. The maximum sentence is 15 years in prison. In Georgia, forging a signature on a check can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount of the check, but forgery of any other documents, including banknotes, is always a felony.
Defenses to Charges of Using Counterfeit Money in Georgia
If you plead not guilty to charges of possessing or spending counterfeit money, you may be able to persuade the jury that you did not know that the banknote was fake. Perhaps you got the bill from an ATM or bank teller, or a cashier handed it to you while making change, which would mean that other people who had handled the bill also did not realize that it was forged. You might also advance a defense related to the violation of your rights; for example, perhaps the police did not have the right to search your wallet. The best way to avoid a criminal conviction for using counterfeit money is to contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia.