San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains California Counterfeit Laws

San Diego Counterfeit LawyerSan Diego Counterfeiting Attorney
Counterfeit laws are broad and cover a wide range of conduct, much of it criminal.  Because there are several different statutes dealing with different types of counterfeiting/forgery, the severity of the punishments can vary greatly.  A simple misdemeanor for possession of counterfeit goods or pirated DVDs is punishable by as much as 6 months in jail, while counterfeiting US Currency is punishable by up to 20 years under Federal law.  In addition to jail time and probation, counterfeiting cases can carry very high fines and restitution to any victims of fraud or intellectual property owners. 

San Diego's close proximity to Tijuana and Los Angeles makes counterfeit goods and money quite common throughout America's Finest City.  The San Diego District Attorney's Office and San Diego City Attorney take counterfeiting cases very seriously and aggressively prosecute such cases in Superior Court.  Federal cases are even more serious.  If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a forgery or counterfeit offense, contact a lawyer now for a Free Consultation.  619-930-9515.

Making or altering a check to fraudulently obtain funds can be a very serious crime.  California Penal Code Section 470 makes it a crime to forge the signature on a check, change the information on a negotiable instrument (check, money order, bond, etc.).  If the value of the check or instrument is over $950, then the forgery will likely be charged as a felony.  Forgery not for monetary gain can still be charged as a felony.

Fake ID, whether for a minor hoping to gain access to alcohol, or for more serious purposes like obtaining government documents, false benefits, employment or housing can all be charged as forgery (PC 470).  When forged documents are presented at certain proceedings (such as in court, or to the DMV when applying for a license), the documents are submitted under penalty of perjury, meaning that a person may be charged with perjury, a felony (PC 118). 

Counterfeit watches, handbags, clothing items and other accessories are a popular industry in Southern California. 

Penal Code Section 350 prohibits willfully manufacturing, intentionally selling, or knowingly possessing for sale any counterfeit mark registered with the Secretary of State or registered on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  A first offense involving counterfeit goods valued up to $1000 is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail.  In cases involving a second or subsequent offense, or a value of goods in excess of $1000, manufacture, sale or possession for sale of counterfeit goods can be charged as a felony, punishable by up to 3 years.

Pirated (or "bootleg") CDs and DVDs are a very large industry.  It is likely that more music is "stolen" than actually purchased, and pirated movies are often a much cheaper alternative to trips to the cinema or purchasing a new DVD from a store.  Like counterfeit goods (discussed above), pirated media is punishable under PC 350, and is generally a misdemeanor for a first offense or for possession/sale of goods valued under $1000.  Repeat offenses, when there is a value exceeding $1000, possession, sale or manufacture of pirated movies or music could be charged as a felony, punishable by up to 3 years.

Making, printing, possessing, selling, using or possessing instruments to make (dyes, paper, plates, etc.) is very harshly punished under Federal law.  Counterfeit currency crimes will be covered by Title 18 of the United States Code, Chapter 25.  The California Penal Code governs the possession or manufacture of dies or plates for minting gold or silver coins, or manufacturing counterfeit gold bars, coins, nuggets or bullion.

1.  Lack of Knowledge (DID NOT know goods were counterfeit)
2.  False Accusation (DID NOT actually possess/sell any counterfeit goods)
3.  Mistake of Fact (the items in question ARE NOT counterfeit goods)
4.  Mistaken Identity (SOMEONE ELSE possessed or sold the counterfeit goods)

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime involving forgery, pirated media, counterfeit goods or counterfeit money, it is absolutely essential that you speak to an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.  San Diego County is tough on crime, and the US Attorney's Office is even tougher (Federal Crimes).  When facing criminal charges, it is your right to be represented by a lawyer who is willing and able to fight for you.  Contact our office now for a FREE CONSULTATION.  619-930-9515.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar         


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