Funny Money and Serious Consequences
Counterfeit money has been around as long as money has been used to pay for goods and services. The people who commit counterfeiting crimes are generally those with the ability to produce the fake currency. However, sometimes people who unintentionally use fake money could face charges. In all reality, counterfeit money is not something unusual to New York.
The Use of Counterfeit Currency
The Rockland County Times recently reported on an arrest made by Clarkstown Police at a local Shell Gas Station in Valley Cottage. Arber Kukaj allegedly used a counterfeit $100 bill to purchase lottery tickets at the gas station. Although Kukaj was using counterfeit money, he was charged with possession of a forged instrument (the fake money) and petit larceny. The gas station owner caught the forgeries in that instance, but this is not always the case. The Bristol Press recently reported on counterfeit bills being used at multiple CVS locations. The woman allegedly used the fake bills to put money on reloadable debit cards. The fakes in that instance were so convincing that they even fooled the machines used by CVS to detect forged bills.
Building Your Defense
The creation of counterfeit bills is a federal crime punishable by fines of up to $250,000 and/or 20 years in prison. The state charges often associated with counterfeiting are theft by deception or larceny, since the person using the counterfeit currency is not obtaining the property legally. You may easily be charged with a crime without ever knowing you committed one. Often, even trained cashiers or tellers may not know when currency is counterfeit. If this is the case then there is always a chance that you may receive counterfeit bills without ever realizing it. If you then use those bills, this could cause officials to suspect you of counterfeiting. At that point your defense would hinge on being an innocent victim and not knowing the currency you were using was not legal.
Another defense you may use to counterfeiting is that the counterfeit is so obvious that any reasonable person should have known this was not real money. This would be like showing up to a movie theater and buying a ticket with play money from a board game. If the money you are using to pay is missing significant pieces of information, like the denomination, then it would be very difficult to find for a conviction of counterfeiting.
At the same time, some counterfeits are so convincing that they can fool machines designed to detect immaculate forgeries. If these machines fail, it is very likely that you too would be unable to discern a difference between the counterfeit bills and real currency. Unfortunately, you might still be charged with counterfeiting even if you were unaware. This is when you need the guidance of experienced criminal defense counsel. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know the defenses you can use, as well as what best fits with your case. It is imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as you are charged though. If you need an experienced New York criminal law attorney you should contact Phillip J. Murphy to help you with your case. Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New York and has been practicing law since 1989. Contact us today to discuss your options.