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What if I Did Not Know a Bill Was Counterfeit?

You give the cashier at the grocery store a $100 bill, only for them to call the police and accuse you of using counterfeit money. You had no idea the money was fake. You have never forged money in your life. So, what happens next? Will you go to jail?

Anyone who intentionally passes, sells, publishes, or brings into the United States any falsely made, forged, or altered financial instrument can be charged with counterfeiting. Counterfeiting money or documents is considered a white collar crime that can come with severe penalties. In the case of counterfeit money, a prosecutor must prove forgery in order to convict a person. There are three elements involved in a forgery case. The prosecutor must:

  • Identify a written instrument (in this case, fake money).
  • Show that the defendant made the written instrument or materially altered it (this means creating a fake bill or coin).
  • Prove that the defendant acted with an intent to defraud (this means you meant to use the counterfeit bill).

The keyword here is intent. If you truly did not know that the bill was fake, then the prosecutor cannot prove intent. Unknowingly using counterfeit currency is not a crime. However, that does not necessarily mean you are off the hook. The prosecutor may still try to prove that you knew about the fake money and were trying to use it to pay for goods or services.

Even if you know you are innocent, if you have been arrested for a counterfeit crime, it is a good idea to contact a lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer can assess your case and help defend your case. Without a solid defense, you could face felony charges. This could mean several years in prison and hefty fines.

In any case, if you use cash a lot, you should know whether it is real or fake. It is not that hard to detect a counterfeit bill. You can check by looking at the details on the president’s face, borders, and numerical values. By knowing how to do so, you can prevent embarrassment as well as legal repercussions.

If you suspect the money, you have is counterfeit, do not try to use it. Instead, try to remember where you got it. Then, call the police, surrender the money, and let them deal with it. Do not return it to the person who gave it to you.

Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Making and using counterfeit money is a white-collar crime that can be charged at both the state and federal levels. It is nothing to laugh at, and even if you did not know the bill was counterfeit, an arrest is still possible.

Get the help you need from the criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Georgia. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible options for resolving your criminal matter. Give us a call at (404) 561-0202 or fill out the online form.