If a good is an unauthorized reproduction, even if it appears to come from a legitimate source, it is likely that the crime of counterfeiting has been committed. The offense involves both the creation of these goods or documents, altering these goods or documents and purchasing these goods or documents.
Trafficking of counterfeit goods is an additional crime that often spans interstate and international borders. Because of this, the regulation tends to come from federal government. However, a state is allowed to set and enact the laws that criminalize counterfeiting activity, but the punishment is handed down by the U.S. Congress.
Counterfeiting is an old crime that has been present for hundreds of years. It has long been used as a tool to create instability in the economic climate. Counterfeit money, for instance, damages the currency itself as well as the faith people have in the government. This is why our Founding Fathers ensured the Constitution granted the government power to criminalize counterfeiting. The very first laws to this extent were passed in 1790, and these original laws are still frequently updated to keep abreast of new counterfeiting techniques.
At first, counterfeiting was mainly related to currency, and this is still a very big issue. However, it quickly became clear that criminals also focused on other forms of security, as well as tools (including digital technology). Furthermore, counterfeiters often copy a trademark, thereby altering merchandise or goods. This comes under the Counterfeiting Trademarks and Other Intellectual Property.
Finally, there are the laws pertaining to international counterfeiting. It is illegal to counterfeit foreign securities, currencies, tools or goods. This includes those made by foreign corporations or banks, but only if the act of counterfeiting occurs in this country.
All these areas apply to documents, bids, bonds, proposals, contracts, affidavits, public records, import documents, seals of agencies, court documents, stamps, meters and more.
Texas Laws and Penalties
The penalties for counterfeiting are brought down by the federal government. Although the punishment varies depending on the severity of the case, they include:
- A fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence up to 20 years for U.S. obligations and securities and foreign obligations and securities.
- A fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 25 years for for possessing stones, plates and other items used in the production of counterfeit items.
- Up to 10 years imprisonment for putting parts of different bank notes together in order to create a new note.
- Up to 15 years imprisonment for counterfeiting coins over 5 cents or gold/silver bars.
- Up to 5 years in prison for trying to pass counterfeit precious metal bars.
Texas Counterfeit Penalties
Under certain circumstances, the penalties delivered may be much harsher. If, for instance, there has been a financial loss or gain for someone other than the defendant, a fine may be included that doubles the amount that was lost or gained by the third party.
Texas Statute of Limitations
The statue of limitation for counterfeiting charges in Texas is 10 years. If the federal government has not brought charges within that time period, they are no longer able to prosecute at all. However, the statue of limitation can be suspended or tolled depending on circumstances, which means that the period could actually be longer. However, an official note of this has to be made.
Key Texas Counterfeiting Cases
– 7 indicted in Texas counterfeit DVD, CD cases – Seven residents of South Texas have recently been indicted in a counterfeit DVD and CD case, which lead to over 58,000 fake items being seized. Six people in Corpus Christi have been arrested and now face copyright infringement charges. The seventh suspect has not been found yet. The group distributed their wares on flea markets and through at least one registered company.
– Central Texas Couple Sentenced In Counterfeit Money Case – Couple Christina Lynn Turner and David Scott Turner have plead guilty to using counterfeit U.S. money in a Hill County convenience store. Mrs Turner received a one year and one day sentence as well as two years supervised release. Additionally, she has to pay a fine of $1,000, restitution of $150 and $100 to the court for a special assessment. Mr Turner received a sentence of 3 years and 10 months, a two year supervised release period and had to pay the same fines as his wife. The charges related to them using a knowingly forged $50 in a Mt. Calm convenience store