Counterfeiting is a serious offense in the State of California, if you or your loved one have been charged with counterfeiting, you should immediately contact Orange County Counterfeiting Lawyer, William Weinberg. Mr. Weinberg has years of experience defending people charged with Counterfeiting in the State of California.What is Counterfeiting Under California Penal Code §472?
In its simplest form, California Penal Code Section 472 makes it a crime to forge or counterfeit the seal of the State of California or any other seal recognized by the State of California to defraud another person. Also, the law makes it a crime for an individual to possess a counterfeited seal.
Typically, the defendants that comes to us are charged with counterfeiting under this section when they forge documents and add the Seal of the State of California or any other public seal to forged documents to legitimize them in order to defraud another party.
In California, counterfeiting is a wobbler, meaning prosecutors have the discretion to charge counterfeiting as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The punishment varies greatly depending on whether the prosecution charges a defendant with counterfeiting as a misdemeanor vs a felony.
To prove its case, the prosecution must establish the following elements:
- The defendant forged, counterfeited, or possessed a counterfeited seal,
- The defendant knew the seal was a counterfeit,
- The defendant willfully concealed the fact that the seal was counterfeited, and
- The defendant had the specific intent to defraud another person
If the prosecution cannot prove any one of these elements, the charges against a defendant will be dropped.
For example, if you possessed a counterfeited seal but didn’t know that the seal was counterfeit, Orange County Counterfeiting Lawyer, William Weinberg may be able to defend your case on the grounds that you did not have knowledge of the counterfeit seal to establish your innocence.Text of the California Penal Code §472
“Every person who, with intent to defraud another, forges, or counterfeits the seal of this State, the seal of any public officer authorized by law, the seal of any Court of record, or the seal of any corporation, or any other public seal authorized or recognized by the laws of this State, or of any other State, Government, or country, or who falsely makes, forges, or counterfeits any impression purporting to be an impression of any such seal, or who has in his possession any such counterfeited seal or impression thereof, knowing it to be counterfeited, and willfully conceals the same, is guilty of forgery.”What Qualifies as a Public Seal?
The definition of a public seal is important because the law has a specific definition of what constitutes a public seal. In California a defendant can be charged with counterfeiting or forging any of the following seals:
- The Seal of the State of California
- The Seal of a County
- The Seal of a Corporation
- The Seal of a Governmental Agency
- The Seal of a State other than California
- The Seal of a Foreign Country
To establish its case against a defendant for forgery under Section 472, the government will have to show that the defendant forged, counterfeited, or possessed a public seal.
Forging and counterfeiting mean that the defendant altered, manipulated, or imitated a public seal in order to defraud another person or acquire some public gain.
Also, a defendant may be charged with counterfeiting for possessing a document that holds a forged or counterfeited seal.What Qualifies as Specific Intent to Defraud?
For the prosecution to convict a defendant of counterfeiting, it must show that the defendant had the specific intent to defraud another person. Specific intent is difficult to show, especially if a defendant does not admit that he or she had the intent to defraud.
So, to prove specific intent, the prosecution usually relies on the inference that the only reason someone would possess a public seal is to deceive another person or party.
An experienced Counterfeiting Attorney William Weinberg in Orange County, may be able to defend your case on the grounds that you did not have the specific intent to defraud.
For example, if you had a document in your possession that had a counterfeit seal and you did not know that the seal was counterfeited or forged, Mr. Weinberg may be able to reduce your charges or have them dropped.What is the Punishment for Counterfeiting Under California Penal Code §472?
In California, counterfeiting is a form of forgery that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. If the prosecution charges you with misdemeanor counterfeiting and convicts you, you may have to pay a fine of up to $1000, as well as serve 1 year in county jail.
On the other hand, if the prosecution charges you with felony counterfeiting and convicts you, you may be fined up to $10,000 and face 1 to 3 years in California State Prison.
The punishment for counterfeiting gets tougher whenever the crime results in great financial loss or suffering to the victim.
For example, if a defendant is caught in possession of a fake idea to enter bars, his punishment will be less than someone who’s caught with a fake ID to defraud a financial institution.
Regardless of why you’re charged with counterfeiting, the punishment for counterfeiting is tough in California, so you should be represented by an aggressive and experienced attorney who may be able to reduce or even have the charges against you dropped. Counterfeiting Attorney, William Weinberg in Orange County has the experience and knowledge it takes to best defend your counterfeiting charges.Offenses Related to Counterfeiting Fake Drivers License
If you’ve been charged with counterfeiting, chances are the prosecution is bringing other, relevant charges against you. We’ve seen the prosecution bring charges for forgery, as well as forging a drivers license, in addition to charges for counterfeiting.
If you are found in possession of a fake driver license, chances are the license bears the seal of the state in which the drivers license was issued. Having a fake license with the seal of another state is illegal and you could be liable for counterfeiting under California Penal Code §472.Fraud & Forgery
Another typical scenario that Mr. Weinberg often encounters in counterfeiting cases is the case where an individual forges a deed for a piece of real property and the defendant adds the County’s seal to legitimize his ownership of the property to obtain a loan backed by the property. The prosecution typically brings a counterfeiting charge against the defendant, in addition to the fraud charges. If this sounds like your situation, you should hire an experienced attorney who knows how to defend such cases because the punishment if convicted is severe.Defenses for Counterfeiting
As previously mentioned, the best defense that Counterfeiting Attorney William Weinberg in Orange County can offer in defense of your counterfeiting charge is that you believed that the seal was legitimate.
If you had a belief that the seal was legitimate, Mr. Weinberg may be able to have the charges against you reduced or dropped because the crime of counterfeiting requires the specific intent to defraud. Someone who had a legitimate belief that the seal was genuine, could not have had the specific intent to defraud.
Another defense that Mr. Weinberg may be able to use is that you did not have the intent to defraud anyone. This defense may be used because to be convicted of counterfeiting, the law mandates that a defendant must have had the intent to defraud, so if you were using the seal for a purpose other than defrauding, Mr. Weinberg may be able to defend you on these grounds.
A third defense that Mr. Weinberg may use to defend your counterfeiting to charge is to look into how the police seized the evidence that they’re claiming holds a counterfeited seal. If the police did not follow the search and seizure rules, Mr. Weinberg may be able to have the evidence against you set aside so that it’s not used against you.
If you’ve been charged with counterfeiting under California Penal Code §472, for forging or possessing a fraudulent public seal, please contact Orange County counterfeiting lawyer, William Weinberg at (949) 474-8008 for a free consultation. Mr. Weinberg will do everything he can to best defend you against your counterfeiting charges.