Atlanta Counterfeit Money Defense Lawyer
When it comes to most kinds of material possessions, fake is almost as good as real, sometimes even better. People knowingly buy costume jewelry and imitation crab meat, and plant-based meat alternatives are shaping up to be the fad food of the 2020s, much as artificial sweeteners were in the 1980s. When it comes to U.S. currency, though, only the real thing will do. Not only can you not buy things with a fake banknote, it is illegal even to try. You can get a sentence of up to 15 years in state prison for producing counterfeit banknotes and up to 20 years in federal prison just for having fake money in your wallet. The United States Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but 20 years is a long time to spend in prison for a nonviolent crime that deprives the victim of an amount of money so small it can be represented by a single banknote. The best way to avoid a prison sentence after being caught in possession of counterfeit money is to contact an Atlanta white-collar crimes defense lawyer at Ghanayem & Rayasam.
What is Counterfeit Money?
Counterfeit money is fake money that the bearer intends to use as if it were real and to persuade the recipient that it is real. Therefore, Monopoly money is not counterfeit money, because its manufacturers do not intend it to resemble U.S. currency so closely that people could reasonably mistake it for the real thing. United States banknotes are designed in a way that makes them difficult to counterfeit; all the changes in banknote design that have taken place during your lifetime have been for the purpose of making bills difficult to counterfeit.
As a defendant, this fact can work for you or against you. On the one hand, since fake bills are easier to recognize than before, if you get a fake bill from a cashier or when a friend repays you in cash for money you lent them, it is easier for you to notice that the money is fake, and therefore you can avoid spending the fake bill, thus avoiding counterfeit money charges. On the other hand, if you spend a counterfeit bill, you have a harder time arguing that you did not know the bill was fake.
Penalties for a Counterfeit Money Conviction
All counterfeit money charges can carry harsh sentences, up to 20 years in federal prison. The options for sentencing are the same whether you created the counterfeit bill, tried to spend it, or just had it in your possession. Likewise, if you produce counterfeit money or attempt to produce it, you can get forgery charges under Georgia state law. Forgery of currency is a first-degree felony, and the maximum sentence is 15 years in state prison.
What to Do if You Get of Spending or Possessing Counterfeit Money in Atlanta
If you get accused of possessing, spending, or producing counterfeit currency, you are innocent until proven guilty. The criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you if you are facing criminal charges for counterfeit money.