What Happens if I Unknowingly Use Counterfeit Money?

What Happens if I Unknowingly Use Counterfeit Money?

What happens if I unknowingly use counterfeit money? You are not thrown into jail as many claim it happens. Nevertheless, counterfeit money is illegal, and you want nothing to do with it at any store.

What happens if I unknowingly use counterfeit money

If you unknowingly use counterfeit money for goods and services, you will be interrogated to determine your intentions. If it is established that you possess more counterfeits, you can be arrested and charged, typically for forgery, fraud, etc.

You can have counterfeit money without knowing it. It could have been given to you by an individual or a merchant. The police understand this.

In some cases, it can be a crime if you are caught with counterfeit money you are not aware of. For example, Ali faced a forgery charge for using counterfeit money. He gave a fake $10 bill for a $3.44 at Taco Bell drive-thru.

Does it mean you just get arrested and charged for using a fake dollar bill? Let us find out.

What Happens if I Unknowingly Use Counterfeit Money?

Normally, inadvertent accidents are not penalized in any criminal court but you can be jailed for using counterfeit money.

If you used a fake dollar bill at a store, they will return it to you or impound it. You will be asked to provide another form of payment. Depending on your attitude towards the store, or if they suspect that you have more fake dollar bills, they can call the cops on you.

Nonetheless, it rarely happens that you will be detained for using fake money. The appropriate authority is not immediately notified but the store can keep the money.

In some other cases, stores could notice counterfeits after the sale. They will review their videos to figure out who issued them.

Is it a crime to use counterfeit money?

It is a crime to use counterfeit money in any state, it violates both state and federal laws. Do not use counterfeit money to avoid getting into trouble.

State law

Your state can penalize you for using counterfeit currency. If you are charged for using fake money, there are chances that you can be charged for more crimes such as forgery and fraud.

Let us consider the law for using fake money in some states below:

  • Minnesota. If you use counterfeit money unknowingly in Minnesota, you can be charged according to the value of the fake currency involved. For instance, if you get caught using fake money worth $1,000 in face value, it is a misdemeanor with a jail term of one year. If you are charged for using fake money with a face value above $35,000, it is a felony with up to 20 years in jail.
  • Maryland. It is punishable to knowingly use counterfeit money in Maryland. If you are arrested and charged, it is a misdemeanor. You also get up to 3 years in jail, plus a $1,000 fine.
  • Georgia. Knowingly using counterfeit money in Georgia can be charged as a forgery. In Georgia, forgery means to alter, make or possess a writing that uses a fictitious name. It is forgery if you alter or make fake money that looks like legit money. If you make or use counterfeit money in Georgia with the intent of fraud, you are charged for forgery. Meanwhile, it is the first degree of crime when you use counterfeit money to pay for products and services. In Georgia, first-degree forgery is a felony that carries up to 15 years in jail.

Federal law

It is a federal crime if you knowingly use counterfeit money. It is also a federal crime if you attempt to use fake money for any purpose to defraud. You risk a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine. If you make counterfeit money, you will also get up to 20 years in jail and a fine.

For both state and federal law, the prosecutor must be able to prove that your intention for using counterfeit money is to defraud a merchant or an individual.

What to Do if You Are Caught with Counterfeit Money

using fake money at self-checkout

If you are caught using counterfeit money and charged, contain an attorney. Otherwise, you risk spending years in jail. As mentioned earlier, both state and federal laws can charge you for forgery and fraud with a fine.

When you contact an attorney, they will evaluate the case for opportunities to use for your defense against the charge. An attorney can also guide you throughout the court process to ensure the result goes in your favor, or that your charge is reduced.

How Does the Court Know Your Intent?

As mentioned earlier, the prosecutor will only penalize you if they can prove that your intention of using counterfeit money is to defraud.

If you are alleged to use counterfeit currency, the prosecutor has to prove that you intended to defraud. Otherwise, you are not guilty.

The prosecutor can prove criminal intent by direct evidence. For example, if you confess that your intention is to defraud, it serves as the prosecutor’s proof.

Circumstantial evidence can also be used to prove your intentions. Suppose you choose a trial without a judge. The judge can use circumstantial evidence from available of you using counterfeit money against you. This involves the judge making an inference to tell if you are guilty.

For instance, if you disguised while paying for an item at a store, the judge can infer that your intention was to defraud because of your appearance.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Away with Using Counterfeit Money?

Your attorney will always evaluate your case for opportunities to use in your defense. For example, if you disguised yourself at the store where you paid for goods or services, the prosecutor will as the judge to use circumstantial evidence. This means you knowingly used the counterfeit money and disguised yourself to get away with it.

In this case, your attorney can claim that you dressed in disguise due to cold or for a Halloween party. This can be the case even with video evidence.

The prosecutor can also use your body language in the video. Of course, your attorney will always have opportunities to use in your defense. You only have to be truthful with your attorney so that they can help you.

While the argument is closing, your attorney can ask the court to infer that you could have been unaware that you possessed counterfeit money. They will urge the court to acquit you for being unaware of the counterfeit.

Will You Get Away with Counterfeit Charge?

You can get away with being charged with counterfeiting money (forgery, fraud, etc.) if your attorney has reasonable defenses.

Remember that the prosecutor needs to be able to prove that your intention for using the counterfeit currency is to defraud before you can be convicted. In most cases, lack of intent and not accident or unawareness are used as defenses.

Your attorney can argue that you unknowingly used the counterfeit money to pay for the goods or services. The attorney here will attempt to urge the judge to acquit you for your ignorant since you would not knowingly defraud the merchant.

The prosecutor can also explore loopholes to use against you in court. For example, if the counterfeit money is poorly printed, the prosecutor can argue that the forgery is too obvious for the defendant to use as legitimate bills.

Final Thoughts

In any case, you must not make purchases with counterfeit money. You can print counterfeit money but must be used for pranks only, and thereafter destroyed. Do not mix it up with legitimate bills to avoid using it for any products or services.

Meanwhile, if you must buy with counterfeit money, ensure to cover your loopholes so that they are not used against you. For instance, ensure the bills are not poorly printed. When paying for goods or services with your counterfeits, remain bodily composed because cameras could be picking your body language.

Meanwhile, you may be interested in lying on your taxes.

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