If you are accused of possessing counterfeit money, you may be able to argue that you never meant for it to represent real money or that you did not know that the money was fake.
If you give him the chance to do so, your uncle will tell you all about how the dollar bills in your wallet are not real money because the U.S. dollar is a fiat currency, and the only truly valuable thing you can own is gold. Fiat currency or not, banknotes are valuable enough that the law draws a clear distinction between a real dollar bill and a fake one. Producing, spending, and possessing counterfeit currency can result in criminal charges in Texas and in federal court. The penalties for forgery of currency or using counterfeit money vary according to the amount of money you tried to fake and the purpose for which you attempted to use the counterfeit money. If you are facing criminal charges for using counterfeit money, contact an Austin fraud and forgery lawyer.
Texas Laws on Forgery or Counterfeit Money
According to Texas law, you can be convicted of forgery if you knowingly engage with counterfeit money. The charges are the same whether you produce the counterfeit currency, spend it, or simply possess it with the intent to convince others that it is legal currency. Forgery of counterfeit currency is a third-degree felony, for which the maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine and a ten-year prison sentence. If the face value amount of the counterfeit is higher, or if you use the money with the intent to defraud a person above the age of 65, the penalties are even steeper.
Since the federal government issues U.S. currency, some cases involving counterfeit money go through federal court. Federal law imposes a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for a counterfeit conviction.
Possible Defenses to Charges of Counterfeiting Money
If you are accused of possessing or spending a counterfeit banknote, you may be able to argue that you did not know that the money was fake. This defense works best if the counterfeit bill looks like a real one and if you received the bill from a trustworthy source, such as a cashier, an ATM, or a bank teller, meaning that the people who saw the bill immediately before you received it also believed that it was real.
Another possible defense to counterfeiting charges is that you knew that the bills were fake, but you never intended to use them fraudulently. For example, if police find a stack of rectangular, pastel-colored “bunny munny” in your backpack, it only makes sense that you planned to hide it in plastic eggs at an Easter party and let children redeem it for prizes, much like Chuck E. Cheese tokens. Likewise, if your wallet is full of Monopoly money, it makes sense that you planned to use it for a math lesson about making a change or a financial literacy lesson about budgeting.
An Austin TX Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Fight Charges of Counterfeiting
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you’ve been accused of possessing, spending, or manufacturing counterfeit money. Contact Granger and Mueller in Austin, Texas.