What if I am Accused of Using Counterfeit Money?

Possessing or spending counterfeit money is a felony, punishable by a prison sentence, but you may be able to argue that you did not know that the money was fake or that you did not intend to spend it for fraudulent purposes.

Georgia law defines the crime of counterfeiting as producing, acquiring, or possessing items that imitate the appearance of valuable items with the intention of using them to defraud others for your own financial gain. Counterfeit banknotes are the classic example, but it is also possible to be charged with counterfeiting if you sell imitations of name-brand clothing for the same prices that retailers sell the genuine article for or if you sell certificates that look like diplomas from accredited universities. Participation in organized operations that trade in counterfeit goods can lead to felony charges, but so can simply carrying a fake dollar bill in your wallet. If you are being accused of using counterfeit money, contact the Norcross, Georgia, financial crimes defense lawyers at Zimmerman & Associates.

Penalties for Possessing or Spending Counterfeit Money in Georgia

According to Georgia law, counterfeiting money is a first-degree felony, and the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison. If a federal court takes up your case and you are convicted of counterfeiting, you could face a sentence of up to 20 years. These charges apply if you attempt to spend money that you know is counterfeit. This counts as intent to defraud because, when you hand the money to the cashier, your intent is that the cashier will accept it, and the business will suffer losses in the amount of the face value of the counterfeit banknote. In practice, many businesses require cashiers to inspect bills of high denominations to ensure that they are genuine. If a cashier tells you that a bill you have handed over is fake, do not ask for it back. Assume that you are the victim of fraud and either ask to void the purchase or pay for your purchase using other bills or a card.

Your Defense Strategy Should Depend on Whether the Counterfeit Money is a Convincing Fake

It is difficult to make convincing imitations of United States currency, and this is by design. Therefore, the same defense that would be convincing if the counterfeit bill looked very similar to a real one would not work if it is obvious to anyone who sees the bill that it is fake. In the former case, it makes sense to argue that you thought that the bill was genuine, and if you had known that it was counterfeit, you would not have accepted it or attempted to spend it. In the latter case, you might argue that you never intended to try to convince anyone that the bill was legal currency.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Counterfeiting Cases in Georgia

An Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you if you are facing criminal charges for counterfeiting currency or other valuable items. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia, to set up a consultation.