New York Federal Counterfeiting Lawyer

Federal counterfeiting laws punish two distinct crimes: the counterfeiting of goods and trademarks, and the counterfeiting of financial instruments.  The former – which calls to mind the trafficking of fake merchandise and pharmaceuticals – is primarily punished by 18 U.S.C. §2320, while the latter – which calls to mind the creation and use of fake currency – is punished primarily by 18 U.S.C. §§471 and 472.

Both types of counterfeiting are treated seriously by federal judges and prosecutors, with maximum sentences of life imprisonment and substantial fines available upon conviction in certain cases. Because of these serious consequences, you should contact a New York federal counterfeiting lawyer immediately if you have been accused of these crimes. Our top criminal defense team could develop a strategy that specifically addresses the issues in your case.

When May Someone Receive Federal Counterfeiting Charges for Goods and Services?

According to 18 U.S.C. §2320, if someone intentionally uses a counterfeit mark knowing that the mark is likely to be confusing, they may be charged with a criminal offense. Additionally, if someone conducts business using counterfeit military goods or drugs, which might cause serious injury, or the disclosure of classified information could be imprisoned by up to ten and 20 years, respectively.

If the offense involved counterfeit military goods, a defendant may be fined by up to $2 million – or up to $5 million for corporate defendants. Additional future convictions for this offense may result in a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $5 million for an individual and $15 million for a corporation.

Worse, if serious bodily injury to another resulted from the offense, the maximum term of imprisonment for a first-time offender is raised to 20 years imprisonment and if the death of another resulted, then a term of life imprisonment may be imposed.  Importantly, to convict an individual of this crime, prosecutors must establish both that “the defendant … intend[ed] to traffic or attempt[ed] to traffic in goods and services[,] and [also] knowingly use[d] a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such goods or services.”  United States v. Hon, 904 F.2d 803, 806 (2d Cir. 1990) (emphasis supplied).

Additionally, 18 U.S.C. §2318 punishes by up to five years in prison anyone who knowingly traffics in counterfeit labels on packaging for copyrighted sound recordings, computer programs, motion pictures, literary works, or works of art.  Similarly, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2319, 2319A and 2319B punish the criminal infringement of a copyright by illegally distributing works (five years imprisonment), the unauthorized sale of sound recordings (five years imprisonment), and the unauthorized duplication and recording of motion pictures (three years imprisonment).  A New York defense attorney could review a federal counterfeiting case and determine what specific offenses apply.

Counterfeit Charges Involving Fake Financial Instruments

When someone intends to defraud, forge or counterfeit any “obligation or other security” of the United States (18 U.S.C. §471) or possesses, uses, or attempts to use the same (18 U.S.C.§ 472) may be imprisoned by up to 20 years and fined. An “obligation or other security” of the United States has been broadly defined to include all bonds, U.S. currency, Federal Reserve notes, Treasury notes, gold and silver certificates, certificates of deposit, bills, checks, drafts for money, and stamps.

Additionally, a “document is considered a counterfeit obligation or security of the United States if [it] … bears such a likeness or resemblance to any of the genuine obligations of the United States [and] is calculated to deceive an honest, sensible, and unsuspecting person of ordinary observation and care ….”  United States v. Scott, 159 F.3d 916, 920-21 (5th Cir. 1998).  In addition to §§ 471 and 472, a number of case specific federal counterfeiting statutes also exist.  For example, 18 U.S.C. § 478 criminalizes the creation of fake foreign currency within the United States; §§ 479 and 480 criminalize the use and possession of such within the United States; and § 483 punishes the use of false or forged bank notes.  Each of these crimes may be punished by a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. Because these counterfeiting charges can be complex, it is important to hire a New York federal defense attorney who has experiences with these types of cases.

Retain a New York Federal Counterfeiting Attorney

Counterfeiting is a serious crime that can have lasting consequences. Because of this it is important to find the right New York federal counterfeiting lawyer. Our firm has plenty of experience litigating these types of cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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