Just the other day, in our own backyard, law enforcement officials seized over $12.7 million in counterfeit Cialis pills (no comment) and fake designer clothing and shoes. The bust occurred in the Port of Long Beach and included over 47,0o0 pills and over 10,000 pieces of clothing and shoes.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. “How in the world is all that fake stuff worth $12.7 million?” Well, when counterfeit items’ value is calculated, law enforcement uses that manufacturer’s suggested retail price. So, that fake designer bag you just bought for $75 is “worth” $3,000 when it comes time to charge you criminally for possessing it. Ooopsy.
Possessing counterfeit goods in California is enforced via Penal Code section 475, aka forgery. That section states, basically, that anyone who possesses or receives a forged item and intends to pass that item on with the intent to defraud another person is guilty of this crime. Note that the person possessing or receiving the forged item must know the item is fake and then act with intent to defraud another in order to be guilty.
Forgery is a “wobbler” in California, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. This typically will depend on the value of the items possessed/forged, quantity, person’s criminal history, etc.
So, what does all of this mean other than don’t sell knock-off stuff? Well, if you are arrested for forgery, as with any crime, it is important not to make any statements to law enforcement without consulting with an attorney first. It is human nature to want to apologize for wrongdoing or to minimalize wrongful actions, but doing that is an admission of guilty and can be used against you. For crimes like forgery or possessing some counterfeit goods, there can be a lot said for being able to pay restitution or some other form of making any victim “whole” again, so keep that in mind.
Being charged with a crime is no fun. Remember that it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as is possible and to treat your criminal charges seriously because the prosecutor is treating them seriously. “Getting ahead of the charges” is always a good idea – have your attorney call law enforcement, call the DA’s office, try to speak to someone in charge of actually determining what charges, if any, get filed against you.
Call Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation and to find out what are some of the things that you can do to put yourself in the best position before court.