Counterfeiting is the crime of duplicating or creating legal tender or goods which are meant to pass off as the original. While most past counterfeiting crimes involved money, today's counterfeiting charges may involve goods, such as designer clothes, watches, jewelry and computer software. Dealing in these counterfeit goods is illegal as it is a type of fraud and may violate patent, trademark and copyright laws. Counterfeiting credit cards for the purpose of fraud is another newer form of this crime. It is also illegal to create false replicas of postage stamps, legal documents, government bonds, identifying documents (such as passports or identification cards) and military papers. Additionally, a person may face counterfeiting charges for creating, selling or even possessing equipment or materials that can be used to create counterfeit legal tender.

What are the penalties for counterfeiting?

When the United States was still a fledgling country, counterfeiting was a crime punishable by death. Today, counterfeiting legal tender or goods is often a federal crime which may result in up to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000, depending upon the specific charges. The item or items counterfeited, the defendant's criminal record and a number of other factors may influence the particular penalties imposed on a defendant if he or she is convicted.

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