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Can someone be charged if found in a motel room with fake money?

After making a pizza delivery to a motel on Tennessee State Route 46, the driver received payment in cash, which he later discovered to be counterfeit. When he realized there were $60 worth of fake $20 bills in his possession, the Dickson resident called law enforcement officials, as reported by WSMV News4 Nashville. Law enforcement officials responded to the pizza delivery driver’s report and went to the motel to investigate.

While at the motel, officials recovered counterfeit $10 and $20 bills worth more than $1,200, along with printers and ink supplies across three different rooms. An individual found in one of the motel rooms had outstanding warrants and was arrested on counterfeiting charges.

Investigating and prosecuting counterfeiting money

U.S. Secret Service agents are responsible for investigating allegations of criminal activity which involve counterfeit money. This includes printing fake currency, altering legitimate bills and possessing counterfeit money with the intent of using it to fraudulently obtain goods and services.

Counterfeiting or forging money is generally a felony offense; some states, however, may classify counterfeiting as a misdemeanor charge. Under Tennessee’s statute, forging an amount of money valued at less than $500 may be charged as a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, an individual may face a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence of no more than 11 months and 20 days. Counterfeiting or possessing an amount of forged money worth more than $500 is, however, a felony offense. If convicted of a felony, punishment may include a substantial fine and incarceration of up to 20 years.

Defending against charges

When law enforcement officials find evidence that results in an individual being charged with a felony offense, it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime. In the case of an individual found in a motel room that had counterfeiting equipment and fake cash, a federal jury must find that the proof is sufficient enough to determine that the defendant had the intent to carry out an illegal action or was successful in doing so.