Austin Counterfeit Money Defense Attorneys
There are many state and federal laws that can be used to prosecute a person for counterfeiting money. If you are facing these charges, it is important to protect your constitutional rights by hiring an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys at Granger and Mueller PC are here to answer all your questions about counterfeiting charges.
What is Counterfeiting?
Here in Texas, counterfeiting is prosecuted under the sections of the Texas Penal Code that deal with fraud. The fraud statute prohibits forgery, criminal simulation (for example, of counterfeit merchandise) and the counterfeiting of trademarks. The statute also prohibits other forms of financial fraud, such as abuse of credit and writing bad checks. Financial forgery can also be prosecuted under federal law by provisions of the U.S. Code that relate to financial crimes. Depending on the circumstances, a person could face both state and federal charges for acts of counterfeiting.
But what exactly is counterfeiting? Thanks to popular movies, many of us picture fancy machines that print fake U.S. currency. This is only one form of counterfeiting. Counterfeiting covers a wide array of fraudulent activities that are used to deceive someone about a financial transaction.
It could be a fake product that you present as authentic. This could be done through a forged document (like a certificate of authenticity) or a forged trademark (for example, trying to pass off a knockoff as a designer product). The key element is that one person perpetrates fraud to deceive the other person about the true nature of the financial transaction. The penalties for this act are determined by the value of that financial transaction.
What Are the Penalties for Counterfeiting?
The penalties for counterfeiting can vary widely. The most important factor is the value of the money, goods or services at issue. Counterfeiting can be charged as anything between a Class C misdemeanor and a First-Degree Felony, depending on the amount in question. A Class C misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of a $500 fine and no jail time.
A first-degree felony, on the other hand, is punished by a minimum of five years in prison (up to a potential sentence of 99 years). These differences show the importance of having a good criminal defense attorney on your side when facing counterfeiting charges. Even a slight difference in classification at the time of charging or plea negotiations can mean years in prison.
How Can I Defend Against Counterfeiting Charges?
So how does a defense lawyer defend counterfeiting charges? In some rare cases, it might be possible to have the charges dismissed altogether. This is the exceptional case where the entirely wrong person has been accused of the crime. It can be difficult to prove this with alibi witnesses, evidence of another person’s involvement, and other concrete evidence. You might even have to present this evidence to a jury at trial if the prosecutor refuses to believe that you were not involved. It is an uncommon situation, but it can be done in appropriate circumstances.
What is far more common is for a defense attorney to work toward a fair plea agreement. A plea agreement is a legal contract by which you agree to plead guilty if the prosecutor makes appropriate concessions. This might mean dropping additional charges, or letting you plead guilty to a lesser charge, or agreeing to recommend a lower sentence. All of these accommodations can lead to a more fair outcome than risking a trial on the original, higher charges.
Your defense lawyer will investigate your case to determine what a fair outcome should be in your unique circumstances. This will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to accept a plea offer or whether to take your chances at trial. While your attorney can make recommendations, the ultimate decision of whether to accept or reject a plea offer is yours alone.
The Right Austin Defense Lawyers for Forgery and Counterfeiting Charges
Counterfeiting charges can affect your life for years to come. In addition to a lengthy prison term, you could also be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution, fines, fees and court costs. The best defense lawyers in Texas are right here at Granger and Mueller PC. Visit our website or call (512) 474-9999 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys. We fight hard to protect your constitutional rights at all stages of investigation, charging, and court proceedings in a criminal case.