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Counterfeiting Crimes

PC 350 & 477 Law & Defense

Information on the crime of counterfeiting is found at California penal code sections 350, 477, & 478. In short, to counterfeit something, is to make an exact replica of something of value, that is not genuine, with the intent to use the counterfeit item to defraud a person.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of counterfeiting, the prosecutor must prove the defendant:

  • Intended to, and did make, a fake document of legal significance (money, lottery ticket, check, property deed, etc.), and

  • Intended to defraud another person with the fake document

Counterfeiting Penalties

Felony: The crime of counterfeiting (PC 350 & PC 477) is usually charged as a felony. When PC 350 or 477 is charged as a felony the defendant could face up to four years in prison (3 years for a violation of PC 350 and 4 years for a violation of PC 477).

Misdemeanor: When  PC 350 or 477 is charged  as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail.

Whether or not the district attorney files felony or misdemeanor charges of counterfeiting depends largely on the amount of money the defendant stole with counterfeit documents, (or attempted to steal), the sophistication of the counterfeiting, and the defendant's criminal history.

Probation: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to a sentence to county jail (though some probation sentences can include an actual jail sentence as a term of probation). Probation sentences are allowed in both felony and misdemeanor counterfeiting cases, but not guaranteed. Whether or not a defendant receives a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 350 or PC 477 depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. Also, work release or house arrest requirements (not actual jail) is usually ordered as part of a probation sentence.

PC 1170(h): PC 350 and PC 477 are crimes that fall within PC 1170(h) sentence law. This means that any jail time is served in a local county jail, as opposed to a state prison; this is true for both felony and misdemeanor counterfeiting jail sentences, including felony jail sentences that are longer than a year.

Note: If found guilty of counterfeiting,and jail time is ordered as part of the defendant's punishment, the defendant is entitled to received good time credits at the rate of 50%, which means two days of jail credit for every one day served. The defendant may also qualify for alternative sentencing options, such as electronic monitoring (house arrest), or work release. Any sentencing option available depends on the facts of the case along with the defendant's criminal history.

CIMT:  Counterfeiting crimes are considered crimes involving moral turpitude. This means that counterfeiting is considered a morally wrong act or involves deceit. Crimes that involve moral turpitude carry special punishments for persons with immigration issues or professional licensing issues (doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses, etc.).


Three Strikes Law: Counterfeiting is not considered a serious or violent crime as those terms are defined in California Three Strikes Sentencing Laws. Neither PC 350, nor PC 477 is considered a strike crime in California.

Bail: The bail schedule for counterfeiting, charged under PC 350(a)(2), in San Bernardino County, is $5,000 for misdemeanor, and $35,000 for felony. 

In addition to any jail sentence, criminal convictions in general can lead to other severe consequences such as: Immigration consequences (non U.S. citizens), probation sentence terms, fines, lawsuits, employment loss, restitution, denial of entry into the armed forces, civil lawsuits, and more.

Counterfeiting Defenses

Common defenses to PC 350, 477, and 478 counterfeiting charges include: insufficient evidence to prove the defendant intended to defraud another person, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, and coerced confessions.

If you have been charged with counterfeiting, or penal codes 350, 477 or 478, contact our criminal defense lawyers to learn your rights and options without delay. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced and aggressive. We have a very successful and proven defense record. We are open seven days a week. Call today!


More counterfeiting crimes

  • Possession of a counterfeit (Penal Code 478 [Felony]

  • Make or possess counterfeit die/apparatus (Penal Code 480 [Felony])

  • Forgery by altering or counterfeiting document (Penal Code 470(d) [Misdemeanor or Felony])

  • Manufacture of sale of counterfeit mark under $1000 (Penal Code 350(a)(1) [Misdemeanor])

  • Manufacture of sale of counterfeit mark greater than a $1000 (Penal Code 350(a)(2) [Misdemeanor or Felony])

  • Manufacture of sale of counterfeit mark w/prior (Penal Code 350(b) [Misdemeanor or Felony])

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