Counterfeiting is a federal crime that can carry stiff penalties depending on the size and scope of the operation. In addition to federal charges, you can also be charged with counterfeiting at the state level or face additional criminal charges for theft or fraud. If you or someone you know is facing counterfeiting charges in either state or federal court, you need the help of a criminal defense lawyer who is qualified to represent you in both court systems.
What is counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting refers to the creation of a replica or copy of something with the intention of passing it off as authentic. While counterfeiting is most often associated with money, there is an increasing market for counterfeit goods including handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, clothing, DVDs and watches. Certain legal documents, such as passports, birth certificates or other forms of government-issued identification, may also be produced by counterfeit operations. If you receive counterfeit goods with the intent to distribute them, you can also be charged with counterfeiting even if you had no role in producing the items in question.
Cases of counterfeiting, particularly those involving the reproduction of counterfeit U.S. tender, are taken very seriously by the federal government. A number of government organizations are responsible for detecting and investigating counterfeiting rings, including the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you’ve been notified that you’re being investigated by the federal government for counterfeiting, you cannot afford to wait to retain the assistance of a qualified federal counterfeiting defense attorney. If you or a loved one is charged with counterfeiting in Chicago then you need to contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer from our firm today.
Penalties for a Counterfeiting Conviction
Title 18, Section 471 of the United States Code outlines the penalties for certain counterfeiting crimes, including those relating to the production of money. Depending on the type of counterfeiting crime you’re charged with, you can expect to receive anywhere from five to 15 years in federal prison for each count and you may also face heavy fines.
In the state of Illinois, counterfeiting is regulated under the Counterfeit Trademark Act. Counterfeiting can be charged as a misdemeanor a felony, depending on how large the operation is. For example, if you’re charged with selling fewer than $100 counterfeit items with a total retail value of $300 or less, you can be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. Manufacturing counterfeit items is treated as a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and a prison term of 2 to 5 years. If you have previous convictions involving the possession, sale or manufacture of counterfeit items, the charges may be increased and the penalties will likely be stiffer. If you’re also charged with fraud, theft, forgery or other crimes, you could end up facing a lengthy prison stay. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate your case and explain all of the possible sentencing options in more detail.
Contact Attorney Michael P. Schmiege
If you’re facing a criminal conviction for counterfeiting, choosing the right attorney to represent you may make the difference between freedom and imprisonment. Whether you’ve been charged with counterfeiting in Illinois or elsewhere in the United States, Chicago criminal attorney Michael Schmiege is available to aggressively defend your rights. He understands the seriousness of counterfeiting charges and is experienced in representing defendants who’ve been charged with this type of crime at both the state and federal level. Call today!