The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


47 DuPage Court, Elgin, IL 60120


Will I Go To Prison For Using Fake Money?

 Posted on November 22, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Kane County criminal defense lawyerAttempting to make a gas station purchase using Monopoly money is more likely to get you laughed at than anything else. However, using counterfeit bills to buy anything could land you in deep trouble with Illinois law. Using counterfeit money carries very steep penalties, which include having a hard time in prison. Forgery and fraud charges are no laughing matter. Facing these charges alone is a mistake, and you would do well to consult a criminal defense attorney experienced in fraud defense cases.

What is Counterfeit Money?

For currency to be counterfeit, it must be forged, altered, or falsely made. The bills must also look authentic enough to the real thing, so much so that they could fool the average person for a prosecutor to make any counterfeit charges stick. However, a prosecutor could still charge you with fraud, forgery, or theft by deception. Other fabrications that can be considered fake include:

  • Federal bonds
  • Gold and silver certificates
  • Certificates of deposit

Can I Be Charged If I Was Unaware The Money Was Counterfeit?

Charged, yes. Convicted, no. Defendants must have knowledge and intent to defraud to be convicted of using counterfeit currency. So, if you received the bills from a previous transaction unaware that the currency was counterfeit and used them to make a purchase, at which point they were flagged as counterfeit, you do not have the intent to defraud required for conviction. Regardless, the police can still arrest you and charge you for the counterfeit currency even if you deny knowing it because they need only probable cause to make an arrest.

How Severe Are The Penalties For Possessing or Manufacturing Counterfeit Currency?

Minimum penalties for an Illinois conviction of this magnitude fall under a Class 3 felony and will cost you up to $25,000 in fines and two to 10 years in prison. The reason for such steep penalties is how detrimental counterfeit currency can be to the economy as a whole. Counterfeit bills can increase the prices of commodities and other goods due to inflation while devaluing real money.

In addition to state penalties, defendants can also face federal penalties for possessing counterfeit currency. Possession of fake money, coins, or foreign currency is considered a Class B felony, which carries up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Contact a Kane County, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

As you can see, the penalties for possessing or manufacturing counterfeit currency can be all but life-ending. The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola is readily available to any individual currently facing charges of forgery in Illinois. Our office can provide an experienced Elgin, IL forgery defense lawyer to help defend your rights. Contact the firm at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation to review your case.

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