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Defending Against Federal Counterfeiting Charges in New York


Defending Against Federal Counterfeiting Charges in New York

Being charged with federal counterfeiting crimes can be scary. The penalties are harsh, and the feds have lots of resources to investigate and prosecute. But with an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can fight the charges and work for the best possible outcome.

What Are Federal Counterfeiting Charges?

Federal counterfeiting laws prohibit making, dealing, or passing fake US currency, coins, postage stamps, and other government-produced items. Some examples of charges include:

  • Manufacturing counterfeit currency or coins
  • Possessing counterfeit bills or coins
  • Passing or spending counterfeit money
  • Buying, selling, or dealing counterfeit items
  • Possessing counterfeiting tools (like printers or holograms)

These charges often bring steep penalties. For example, manufacturing counterfeit currency can be punished by 20 years in prison. Passing just a few fake $20 bills can mean up to 15 years behind bars.

How Federal Counterfeiting Cases Work

Federal counterfeiting cases work differently than state cases. Here’s some info on the process:

  • Counterfeiting is investigated by federal agencies like the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, or Postal Inspection Service.
  • Charges are filed in federal (not state) court.
  • Prosecutors must prove “intent to defraud” – that you knew the money or items were fake.
  • Penalties are harsh federal sentencing guidelines, not state laws.
  • Most cases end in plea bargains, but trials happen before a judge, no jury.

Because the feds have so many resources, they can conduct surveillance for months and make undercover deals. This evidence can be tough to overcome at trial.

Fighting Federal Counterfeiting Charges in New York

While federal counterfeiting cases are challenging, strong defense strategies can help. An experienced New York criminal lawyer will thoroughly examine the evidence and look for weaknesses in the government’s case. Some options include:

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Going to Trial

One defense strategy is taking your case to trial. At trial, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally committed counterfeiting. Your lawyer can argue you didn’t know the money or items were fake. Without proof of intent, you should be found not guilty.

Arguing Illegal Search

If evidence was obtained illegally, your attorney can file a suppression motion. If the search violated your rights, the evidence may be excluded at trial.

Questioning Authenticity of Evidence

Your lawyer may argue that the alleged counterfeit items weren’t actually fake. With currency, an expert can testify that the bills contained security features or didn’t match known counterfeits.

Seeking Dismissal

In some cases, charges can be dismissed before trial due to lack of evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, or other reasons. Your attorney will explore any opportunity for dismissal.

Negotiating a Plea Deal

Rather than risk trial, many counterfeiting cases end in plea bargains. Your lawyer may negotiate with prosecutors to get charges reduced or secure a lighter sentence.

Sentencing Mitigation Strategies

If convicted of federal counterfeiting charges, harsh sentencing is likely under federal guidelines. But your lawyer can present mitigating factors to help reduce your sentence, such as:

  • Minimal criminal history
  • Acceptance of responsibility
  • Mental health or addiction issues
  • Unusual family circumstances
  • Charitable works or public service
  • Health problems

In some cases, cooperating with prosecutors may help reduce your sentence. Your attorney can advise if cooperation is beneficial.

Getting Experienced Legal Help

Facing federal counterfeiting charges is daunting. But an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer can carefully examine the evidence, build a strong defense, and work aggressively to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Don’t go it alone against the power of the federal government. Get skilled legal help fighting for your future.


Here are some references used in this article:

18 U.S. Code § 471 – Obligations or securities of United States

18 U.S. Code § 472 – Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities

18 U.S. Code § 474 – Plates, stones, or analog, digital, or electronic images for counterfeiting obligations or securities

Department of Justice: Counterfeit Acts

US Sentencing Commission Guidelines for Counterfeiting

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