High price for having counterfeit currency?
In difficult financial circumstances, it might be tempting to consider purchasing counterfeit currency. While the price of such ‘money’ fluctuates widely, it is often as low as 25% of the face value. As a result this may make it a tempting proposition.
State currency producers spend millions each year on devising and improving security safeguards. The fact that counterfeit currency can still be passed off for real money reveals something of this hidden world of criminality.
To produce high-quality counterfeit currency requires an investment in expensive print technology. As a result the people responsible for such enterprises are sophisticated and organised criminal gangs. They will use fake money sales to finance illegal drugs, weapons and trafficking activities.
In addition to the threat that counterfeit currency poses to the broader economy, it is this link to organised crime that requires courts to pass deterrent sentences on those caught with the money.
The potential consequences of passing counterfeit currency
Non-custodial sentences are almost unheard of, even for the use of a single note or coin.
In Corcoran  where a single £50 note was passed, a sentence of six months imprisonment was approved by the Court of Appeal following a guilty plea.
The defendant in Miller  originally received two years imprisonment, but this was reduced to a sentence of 15 months. Miller passed three counterfeit £20 notes and three more were found in his possession.
The Court of Appeal has stated:
“We observe, as other constitutions of this court have done on previous occasions, that in view of the potential harm to the United Kingdom economy an immediate custodial sentence would almost invariably be required in cases such as this. However, its term will depend upon the factual circumstances of the instant case. One of the most important factors will be the number of counterfeit notes involved, which will give some indication as to the proximity of the offender to the source of the notes.”
The maximum sentence for tendering counterfeit currency is ten years imprisonment.
For those involved in the production of notes or coins, severe sentences typically follow, and a court may also consider making a preventative order such as in the case of Karra and Karra .
In the case of Crick  the court observed:
“Coining is a serious offence. It was rightly treated as such by the learned judge, who correctly took the view that it called for an immediate custodial sentence. It must, however, be recognised that not all such offences are of the same gravity.
At one extreme is the professional forger, with carefully prepared plates, and elaborate machinery, who manufactures large quantities of bank notes and puts them into circulation. A long sentence of imprisonment is appropriate in such a case.
Here the offence is at the other end of the scale. The tools used to make the blanks were primitive, and were not acquired specially for the purpose; the techniques used were amateurish, and there was little real attempt to make the blanks a facsimile of a 50 pence piece. The coins were not, and could not have been, put into general circulation.”
Contact a criminal law solicitor
If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offending involving counterfeit currency then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice. As you can see, the courts will always take such offences seriously upon conviction.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.
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