Counterfeit Money Charges

Facing charges related to counterfeit money can be a serious situation, and having a seasoned and proficient defense attorney at your side can significantly help the outcome of your case. With Josh Kolsrud as your defense, you can be assured that you will get the counsel and backing needed to fight through the difficulties of your charges.


Josh Kolsrud has knowledge and proficiency in defending against counterfeit money charges. With over 14 years of experience as a local, international, and federal prosecutor, he has successfully handled counterfeit money cases. His proven success record showcases his commitment to fight for the rights and interests of his clients throughout the legal proceedings.

At our firm, we understand the complexities of federal and Arizona laws surrounding counterfeit money. From assisting you to fully understand the charges against you to negotiate with the prosecution, Josh Kolsrud and his team will be there at every step, ensuring your rights are safeguarded.


Book a free consultation today to discuss your case and explore how we can provide the assistance and support you require in dealing with counterfeit money charges.

Get In Touch With Us Now - We're Here To Help!

counterfeit money

Understanding 18 U.S.C. § 471: The Counterfeit Money Law

The world of finance is a complex and intricate web; occasionally, individuals find themselves tangled in the sticky strands of counterfeiting money accusations. Charges under 18 U.S.C. § 471, the federal statute on counterfeiting, can have far-reaching consequences beyond simple penalties. 


❗An interesting statistic is that according to the United States Secret Service, approximately $90 million in counterfeit money is circulating in the U.S. at any given time. Given the severity and prevalence of this federal crime, it's crucial to understand the ins and outs of the counterfeit money law and the potential legal ramifications one might face if charged.


At its core, 18 U.S.C. § 471 is designed to penalize the creation and distribution of counterfeit money. This federal statute covers the act of making fraudulent currency and includes the forgery of securities, bonds, and other legal tenders of the United States. The law's primary purpose is to maintain the financial system's integrity and carries harsh penalties to discourage potential offenders.


Elements of a Counterfeiting Offense

To successfully prosecute an individual under 18 U.S.C. § 471, several key elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


These include the following:

  • The defendant's intent to defraud
  • The act of counterfeiting money or securities
  • And the resemblance of the counterfeit items to genuine U.S. currency or securities

Successfully proving these elements requires a vigorous and thorough prosecution, which is why a skilled defense lawyer is vital.

How 18 U.S.C. § 471 Interacts with Arizona Laws

While counterfeiting is primarily a federal crime, Arizona law also addresses this fraudulent activity.


According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS § 13-2002), forgery, which includes counterfeiting, can be charged as a class 4 felony. This charge carries significant penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and probation.


Individuals may sometimes face state and federal charges, further complicating the legal proceedings.

counterfeit money penalties

Potential Penalties for Counterfeiting Money

Federal Penalties for Counterfeiting

On the federal level, counterfeiting money is a serious crime that carries substantial penalties. If found guilty under 18 U.S.C. § 471, an individual can face up to 20 years in federal prison and hefty fines.


The severity of the punishment reflects the considerable impact counterfeiting has on the nation's economy and the public's trust in the financial system.


Consequences on State Level: Arizona's Stand

In Arizona, a forgery conviction—which includes counterfeiting—can result in prison time ranging from 1 to 3.75 years for first-time offenders, as per ARS § 13-2002. The state also imposes fines of up to $150,000 plus surcharges.


The severity of the state punishment also mirrors the seriousness of the crime and the potential damage it can inflict on Arizona's economy.

Defense Strategies for Counterfeit Money Charges

When faced with counterfeiting charges, a range of defense strategies can be employed. The choice of strategy often depends on the specifics of the case and the evidence at hand.


Here are some common legal defenses in counterfeiting cases, each with its own unique considerations:

  • Challenging the Intent to Defraud

    For a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 471, the prosecution must prove the defendant had an intent to defraud. If this intent can be called into question, the case could be weakened.


    For example, if the defendant can demonstrate that they created the counterfeit bills as part of a movie prop or an art project without intending to use it as real currency, this defense could be effective.

  • Disputing the Quality of Counterfeit Items

    The prosecution also needs to show that the counterfeit items bear a reasonable resemblance to genuine U.S. currency or securities.


    If the defense can argue that the quality of the counterfeit items was so poor that no reasonable person would mistake them for genuine, this could also undermine the prosecution's case.

  • Claiming Lack of Knowledge

    This defense is based on the principle that the defendant must be aware they are dealing with counterfeit money to be found guilty.


    If a person received counterfeit money without knowing its fraudulent nature and then used it, they could potentially claim lack of knowledge as a defense. Proof of this might come from surveillance footage or witness testimonies showing the defendant accepting the counterfeit bills without suspicion.

Remember, the effectiveness of these defenses often relies on the specific circumstances of each case and the skill of the defense attorney in presenting them.

criminal defense attorney

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help the Defense Process for Counterfeit Money Cases

An experienced attorney, particularly one with expertise in federal crimes like counterfeiting money, can significantly influence the prosecution process. They can help interpret complex laws, represent the defendant during court proceedings, negotiate plea deals, and build a strong defense strategy.


By challenging the prosecution's evidence and potentially casting doubt on the elements of the crime, a skilled attorney can work to reduce charges or even seek a case dismissal.

The Prosecution Process for Counterfeit Money Cases

The prosecution process for counterfeit money cases at the federal level typically involves the following steps:


  • Typically, the process starts with an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service (NSA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • If there's enough evidence, the case moves to the grand jury, which will decide whether to indict
  • If an indictment is issued, the defendant will be arraigned, and the case will proceed to trial unless a plea deal is reached.


How Arizona Courts Handle Counterfeit Money Cases

In Arizona, the state courts may also be involved in counterfeit money cases, especially if the counterfeit money was used within the state's jurisdiction.


The process is similar to the federal process, starting with an investigation, potentially by local, state law, or federal law enforcement. The case may then go to a grand jury for indictment, followed by an arraignment, pre-trial motions, and then trial.

The Role of Kolsrud Law Offices in Defending Counterfeit Money Charges

At the Kolsrud Law Office, we deeply understand the intricacies of counterfeit money charges, both on the federal level and within the state of Arizona. Our firm's primary goal is to protect our client's rights and provide them with the best possible defense.


Our attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of federal crimes and Arizona's legal landscape. We use this knowledge to craft defense strategies tailored to each client's unique circumstances. With experience in negotiating plea deals, challenging evidence, and representing clients in court, we strive to achieve the most favorable outcomes possible.


Dealing with charges of counterfeiting money can be overwhelming. But with the Kolsrud Law Office by your side, you're not alone. We combine our legal prowess with a genuine commitment to client care, ensuring you feel informed and supported throughout the process.


Whether you're facing charges under 18 U.S.C. § 471 or dealing with counterfeiting accusations at the state level, we're here to help. Contact us today to start building your defense and taking the first steps toward navigating these challenging legal waters.

Contact us today to schedule
A FREE CONSULTANT and learn more
about how we can help you.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

Get a Free Initial Consultation:

Please complete our form below to get a free initial consultation
or call us at (480) 999-9444.