Uttering is a serious crime that carries the possibility of a state prison sentence upon conviction.Elements of Uttering
In order to convict a defendant of uttering, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The document in question appeared to be a bank bill or note;
- The bank bill or note was falsely made, counterfeited, or altered;
- The defendant passed or attempted to pass the document to someone as true and genuine;
- The defendant knew or believed the bill or note to be worthless because it was falsely made, counterfeited, or altered; and
- The defendant acted with the specific intent to injure or defraud someone.
Uttering requires only that a significant item in the bill or note has been falsified or altered – it is not necessary that the entire bill or item is false or altered.
The defendant does not need to successfully pass the bill or note to another person. An attempt to pass the note is sufficient for a conviction, and the defendant is often unsuccessful in actually passing the bill.
The United State Secret Service has jurisdiction over counterfeiting crimes. Therefore, the investigations of these cases are generally very professional and thorough, and far superior to investigations conducted by municipal police departments.Common Defenses and Defense Strategies
Uttering cases can be defended in a variety of ways.
- Defendant’s State of Mind - The majority of these cases turn on whether the defendant knew or believed the bill or note to be worthless. If the Commonwealth cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the bill or note was worthless, the defendant must be found not guilty.
- Quality of the Counterfeit Bill - Because the Commonwealth must prove the defendant knew the bill was counterfeit in some way, the quality of the counterfeit bill is an important consideration. The better the quality of the counterfeit, the more likely it is that the defendant wasn’t aware it was bogus. By some estimates, there are tens of millions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit bills in circulation. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that a defendant innocently possessed a counterfeit bill and innocently tried to pass it as legitimate. Of course, if the bill is clearly counterfeit, the innocent mistake defense becomes much more difficult to assert.
Given the serious consequences that result from a conviction for uttering, you should hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience in litigating these types of cases. Attorney Chris Spring prosecuted these cases earlier in his career when he served as an assistant district attorney and since becoming a defense attorney, he has successfully defended individuals charged with this type of case. Having tried more than 150 cases before Massachusetts juries in both district and superior court, Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to guide you through the criminal justice system and present your side of the story to a jury. As with any crime, you should never speak to the police without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney to explore all of your options.