Counterfeiting Forgery Lawyer Protecting Your Rights Nationwide
If you have been accused of felony counterfeiting or illegal forgery, you need to speak with criminal defense lawyers experienced with representing clients charged with these sorts of fraud offenses. Often, counterfeiting and forgery charges are accompanied by other violations, such as insurance fraud or the theft of personal identity. If state or federal prosecutors can prove that the defendant knew and willingly committed fraud, they could face harsh consequences for their actions.
However, before you enter a guilty plea, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer experienced in defending clients in counterfeiting and forgery criminal cases.
Orange County federal criminal defense attorney Diane C. Bass has spent years of her career defending the rights of clients in and out of courtrooms. Over those years, Ms. Bass has defended clients accused of white-collar crimes, drug crimes, sexual battery, violent crimes, and criminal accusations of fraud. Her winning record is impressive, and she has long held a sterling reputation for her professionalism and knowledge of complicated laws.
What Are the Elements of a Crime of Counterfeit and Forgery?
Anyone who intentionally passes, attempts to pass, sells, publishes, conceals, or brings into the United States any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered financial instrument can be charged with counterfeiting. Most commonly, counterfeiting refers to the imitation of paper money or coins, but the crime can also involve checks, tickets for public transit, sports trading cards, and a variety of other items.
Forgery involves the making, altering, use, or possession of false writing to commit fraud. Forgery can occur in many forms, such as signing another person’s name on a check or falsifying one’s own academic transcript. When forgery involves currency, it is also called counterfeiting.
So, to prove a case of forgery, a prosecutor must:
- identify a written instrument;
- show that the defendant made the written instrument, materially altered an existing written instrument, or falsely signed a written instrument; and
- prove that the defendant acted with an intent to defraud.
More specifically, a core element of criminal forgery is that a person makes, alters, uses, or possesses a false writing. Keep in mind that to serve as the basis for forgery charges, the writing in question must have a legal significance and be false, where the false statement changes the fundamental meaning of the writing.
Additionally, to be punishable as forgery, the writing in question must have apparent legal significance. This includes government-issued documents like drivers’ licenses and passports; transactional documents like deeds and receipts; financial instruments like currencies and stock certificates; and other documents, such as wills, patents, medical prescriptions, and works of art. Note that to have legal significance, a document must simply affect legal rights and obligations. So, while forging a physician’s signature is forgery, signing another person’s name to a letter to a friend would probably not constitute forgery because, in most cases, the letter does not have legal significance.
Lastly, to be guilty of forgery, the defendant must have intended to defraud someone or some entity like a government agency. The purpose of this rule is to protect those who possess or sign fraudulent documents without knowing that the documents are false so that they will not be subject to criminal liability. As a result, a common defense to forgery or counterfeiting charges is that the accused lacked intent to defraud.
What is the Difference Between Forgery and Counterfeiting?
All forgeries and counterfeits are fakes — something made to pass as real or authentic. But not all fakes qualify as counterfeits or forgeries — just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean there is an intent to defraud others.
A forgery is a fake or illegal copy. Examples of forgery-based fraud include signing someone else’s name on a written document without their consent in order to pass off the document as genuine or copying a signature for a promissory note. Forgery charges are often accompanied by fraud charges for identity theft, mail fraud, check fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud, and credit card fraud offenses.
A counterfeit is something that was made to appear real but is, in fact, not, such as a fake bank bill, lottery ticket, or public seal. Counterfeit charges can also be filed against those who have made illegal imitations of copyright, trademark, or patent-protected works with the intent to defraud others for financial or personal gain.
What Qualifies as a Public Seal?
It is strictly illegal to forge or counterfeit a seal of the city, county, state, federal government, or legally constructed corporation. Examples of seals that are protected under federal law include:
- The seal of an established corporation, business entity, bank, or law firm.
- The Seal of a County in California.
- The Seal of a Foreign Country.
- The Seal of a Government Agency, for example, the FBI or IRS.
- The Seal of the State of California.
If federal prosecutors can prove that the defendant showed an intent to defraud with the use of a fraudulent public seal, the defendant may find themselves stuck with either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
What is the Jail Sentence for Forgery?
In most states, forgery is a felony punishable by a range of penalties, including jail or prison time, significant fines, probation, and restitution to the alleged victims. Some states, though, consider certain types of forgery misdemeanor offenses, punishable by a county jail term of up to one year.
Be aware that laws do permit the state to consider felony sentencing of imprisonment for 16 months, two years, or three years. In most cases, felony counterfeiting is punished with two to four years’ imprisonment, and the state may also consider the defendant’s criminal record and any applicable aggravating factors to determine whether they should serve the term of imprisonment in state prison instead of in county jail.
Attorney Diane C. Bass is an experienced and zealous defender who has an outstanding reputation among judges, prosecutors, and legal colleagues throughout Southern California and nationwide. She is dedicated to defending her clients in trial and has a proven track record with excellent results for past clients. If you are looking for a tenacious attorney to handle your forgery or counterfeit charge, do not hesitate to work with Attorney Bass.
How Could Criminal Defense Attorneys Help Your Case?
If you have been charged with fraud or the creation of forged or counterfeit materials, it is highly recommended that you seek the legal representation of experienced criminal defense attorneys. In Southern California and nationwide, the Law Office of Diane C. Bass is considered one of the finest criminal law firms and would be proud to represent you in your upcoming case.
As your attorney, Ms. Bass may attempt to establish reasonable doubts that you ever intended to defraud anyone. In order to be found guilty in a court of law, the defendant must have had intent to defraud others with their scheme. Without that intent, the accused could be found innocent of the charges under the penal code.
Sometimes, charges for forgery or counterfeit result from a simple misunderstanding or even mistaken identity. Whatever the case may be, as your legal representation Ms. Bass will attempt to provide you with a winning defense that reaches a satisfying outcome for all those involved.
However, it is important that you respect the charges and do not treat them dismissively. If convicted, it is possible that a defendant could receive time behind bars in a county jail, large financial penalties, or some combination of punishments under the penal code.
Start Building a Lasting Attorney-Client Relationship Today by Contacting the Diane C. Bass Criminal Defense Firm
Criminal defense lawyer Diane C. Bass represents clients charged with all manner of white-collar crimes. She has a sterling reputation across Southern California and nationwide and has served clients in localities such as Garden Grove, Los Angeles County, San Diego, Orange County, Irvine, CA and nationwide. It is important to note that, while the consequences under the penal code can be severe, everyone in court is innocent until they are found guilty. As your defense attorney, Ms. Bass will do everything within her considerable legal power to establish reasonable doubt, prove your innocence, see charges dropped, or draft a plea bargain that helps you reach a satisfactory outcome.
Do not let a forgery or counterfeit charge ruin your future; schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation, today. Contact the firm online or by phone at 949-494-7011.