Texas Counterfeiting Money Defense Attorney
Did you know the original purpose of the United States Secret Service was to enforce laws against the counterfeiting of American money? Our country takes the counterfeiting of money extremely seriously. If you are arrested for counterfeiting in Texas, you may face both state and federal criminal charges. It is imperative that you protect yourself.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, a Texas counterfeiting money defense lawyer is ready to work hard on your behalf, fighting to get you the best possible result. If you are facing counterfeiting money charges in Southeast Texas, please contact our team today for skilled legal advice and aggressive, high-quality legal representation.
What Is Counterfeiting?
The word counterfeiting can refer to a number of white-collar crimes under federal and Texas law. The most common usage of counterfeiting is with respect to money. The basic federal counterfeiting statute (18 U.S.C. § 471) states that “[w]hoever, with intent to defraud, falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, or alters any obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
The phrase “obligation or other security” broadly encompasses currency such as Federal Reserve notes, treasury notes, and even savings bonds. Basically, if you intentionally make, possess, or try to pass off a fake of any type of financial instrument issued by the government as legitimate, you have committed counterfeiting under federal law. This even extends to individuals who merely possess equipment and tools that can be used for counterfeiting, such as metallic plates that could replicate U.S. currency.
Counterfeiting and Forgery Under Texas Law
Separate from federal law, Texas also has criminal statutes that punish forgery, which incorporates the use of counterfeit money with the “intent to harm or defraud another.” Forgery applies to any type of writing or written instrument, so a counterfeit bill would qualify. While forgery itself is normally treated as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, if the forgery involves the use of counterfeit money it is automatically bumped up to a third-degree felony (which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years). And a defendant may face even more severe charges if there is evidence that the counterfeit money was actually used in an attempt to obtain goods or services.
Criminal counterfeiting is not just limited to forging the currency of government instruments. A person may also face criminal charges if they are accused of “trademark counterfeiting.” The Texas Penal Code defines this offense as “intentionally” manufacturing, displaying, advertising, distributing, selling, or possessing with intent to sell any item with a counterfeit mark.
Basically, if you have ever seen a street vendor selling knock-off merchandise that contains a fake brand-name label, that is trademark counterfeiting. Businesses register their trademarks (or service marks) to identify their goods (or services) to the public. So if you intentionally copy that mark without the owner’s permission and use it to sell knock-off goods, the government considers that a form of counterfeiting.
As with many white-collar crimes, the severity of a trademark counterfeiting charge will vary based on the retail value of the item or service involved. If a person is caught selling a single knock-off item worth less than $100, then trademark counterfeiting is a Class C misdemeanor, the equivalent of a traffic ticket. But it is possible to face more serious misdemeanor–or felony–charges with jail time if more valuable counterfeit goods are involved.
Different Types of Counterfeiting Charges
You can be charged with ‘counterfeiting money in a wide variety of circumstances. Though, no matter the specifics of your situation, these charges are always extremely serious. Some of the most common examples of counterfeiting money charges that our criminal defense lawyers have handled include:
- Possession of counterfeit money;
- Manufacturing of counterfeit money;
- The trafficking of counterfeit money;
- Conspiracy to possess, manufacture or traffic counterfeit money;
- Possession of tools to produce counterfeit money; and
- Forgery or forged checks.
How Our Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You
With today’s technology, counterfeiting schemes have become increasingly advanced and complex. In some ways, prosecutors struggle to understand the latest technological developments in counterfeiting. In some cases, this lack of understanding can result in Texas or federal prosecutors bringing counterfeiting charges that are not actually supported by the evidence.
For you to be convicted of counterfeiting, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly committed the act of counterfeiting money. If the prosecution cannot meet this high legal burden, the charges against you should be dropped. Our aggressive Houston criminal defense attorneys will review your case and fight against any charges in which the prosecutors cannot prove that you had the requisite intent to traffic, possess, or use counterfeit money.
Beyond directly fighting counterfeiting charges, our team will also look for opportunities to reduce your penalties. In some cases, the prosecutors may have sufficient evidence to prove the case. If that is so in your case, we will do everything in our power to properly represent your interests, in order to get you the best possible result. We know how to negotiate with prosecutors and work your case through the criminal justice system.
Were You Charged With Counterfeiting Money in Southeast Texas?
Our legal team can help. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have extensive experience defending a wide array of white-collar crimes, including counterfeiting cases. Our lead attorney Tad Nelson is a Board-Certified criminal defense specialist and a former Assistant District Attorney (ADA). He knows all sides of the criminal justice system. To set up a fully confidential review of your charges, please contact our team today. From our offices in Houston, League City, and Galveston, we represent clients throughout the region.