Counterfeiting Charges in FL


What Is Counterfeiting?  

Counterfeiting involves producing and selling counterfeit or unauthorized replicas of genuine products, designs, artwork, or other goods and services. This unethical practice aims to deceive consumers into believing they are buying authentic items. Counterfeiting is not only illegal but also infringes upon intellectual property rights, potentially resulting in severe legal repercussions. 

Cash is not the only item that can be counterfeited. Other commonly counterfeited items include: 

  • Artwork 

  • Bonds 

  • Clothing 

  • Credit cards 

  • Drugs (or pharmaceuticals)  

  • Electronic goods 

  • Jewelry 

  • Luxury items 

  • Movies 

  • Passports 

  • Plates or tags 

  • Watches 

Florida Laws Concerning Counterfeiting  

In Florida, a person can face two specific charges for counterfeiting. The offenses include selling goods or services with a phony trademark or intellectual property designation and forging or counterfeiting a good or service protected by a trademark or other intellectual property designation. 

Under Florida Statute Section 831.032, a person can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if they knowingly and willfully:  

  • Forge or counterfeit, cause to be forged or counterfeited, distributed, or manufactured, or possess with intent to transport or distribute any goods, services, or trademark of any person or entity.  

  • Sell, offer to sell, purchase, or possess with intent to sell or vend any goods with a forged or counterfeit trademark.  

However, this offense can be enhanced to:  

  • A felony of the third degree if the offense involves 100 to 1,000 items with counterfeit marks or goods with a retail value of $2,500 to $20,000 or if, during the commission of a crime, the accused causes or allows bodily injury to be caused to another person.  

  • A felony of the second degree if the offense involves 1,000 or more items with counterfeit marks or if the value of the goods is at least $20,000, or if, during the commission of the crime, the accused causes or allows serious bodily injury to be caused to another person.  

  • A felony of the first degree if, during the commission of the crime, the accused causes or allows the death of another person to occur.  

Is Counterfeiting a Federal Crime?  

Yes, people can face federal prosecution if they produce or distribute counterfeit money. You can also face federal charges if you knowingly use or attempt to use counterfeit cash to make purchases.  

The primary federal law dealing with counterfeiting is Title 18, Section 471 of the U.S. Code. This statute makes it a federal crime to falsely make, forge, or counterfeit any obligation or security of the United States. 

Penalties for Counterfeiting 

Penalties under this law can be severe. If convicted of counterfeiting U.S. securities or obligations, an individual could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine, or both (18 U.S.C. § 471). The penalties intensify if the counterfeiting is done with the intention of committing a terrorist act, which can lead to a maximum of 25 years imprisonment (18 U.S.C. § 470). 

A person found to be trafficking goods, services, packaging labels of any kind (i.e. patches, stickers, emblems, charms, containers, etc.), drugs, or military services and goods with a counterfeit mark can face up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2 million (18 U.S.C. § 2320). Second and subsequent offenses are punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of $5 million.  

The imprisonment term for counterfeiting involving foreign obligations or securities is up to 20 years (18 U.S.C. § 478). In addition to criminal penalties, counterfeiters may be subject to civil penalties. Victims of counterfeiting can sue for damages in federal court, which can result in hefty fines for the counterfeiters. 

Counterfeiting Defenses  

Possible defenses against counterfeiting charges include:  

  • Lack of intent or knowledge. One possible defense is to argue that you did not have the intent or knowledge to engage in counterfeiting activities. To establish this defense, your attorney may scrutinize your actions and demonstrate that you were unaware of any involvement in counterfeit currency production. 

  • Absence of counterfeit currency. Another defense strategy is challenging the prosecution's claim that you possessed counterfeit money. Your attorney can argue that you had no knowledge of the counterfeit nature of the currency or that you were unknowingly given counterfeit currency during a legitimate transaction. 

  • Lack of quality. Your attorney may argue that the quality of the counterfeiting goods is so poor that the goods were obviously counterfeit.  

  • Insufficient evidence. A defense based on insufficient evidence involves challenging the prosecution's ability to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney may question the authenticity of the evidence presented or challenge the credibility of witnesses, making it difficult for the prosecution to establish your involvement in counterfeiting. 

  • Mistaken identity. If there is a possibility of mistaken identity, your attorney may argue that you were wrongfully identified as the person engaged in counterfeiting activities. This defense relies on proving that someone else was responsible for the counterfeit currency production or distribution. 

  • Entrapment. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials induce an individual to commit a criminal act that they would not have otherwise committed. If you can establish that you were coerced or persuaded by law enforcement to engage in counterfeiting, your attorney may present an entrapment defense. 

  • Lack of due process. In some cases, your attorney may challenge the legal process itself, arguing that your rights were violated or that proper procedures were not followed during the investigation or arrest. This defense aims to demonstrate that you were denied a fair trial. 

Reach Out to Our Criminal Defense Attorney 

At the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher, we represent clients facing white collar criminal charges, including counterfeiting charges. If you or a loved one are facing state or federal prosecution, our firm can help you fight to protect your rights and freedoms.  

Call (352) 503-4111 to get started on your case by scheduling a case consultation.

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