Manufacture, Sale, or Possession of Counterfeit Goods

Selling Fake Designer Merchandise in Los Angeles

Selling fake and counterfeit designer merchandise such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany, Adidas, or Nike can get your arrested and charged with felonies punishable by state prison time, steep fines, and a huge restitution bill. The importing, buying, and selling of counterfeit goods is no joke in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has aggressively prosecuted the crimes and has been very successful. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department have created special units who regularly investigate these types of crimes and routinely conduct undercover operations, serve search warrants, make arrests, and seize large amounts of cash and counterfeit goods.

California Law - Penal Code Section 350

You might think the term “counterfeit” only refers to fake currency, but California Penal Code section 350 defines another form of counterfeiting: knowingly using a logo or design (a “mark”) to sell knock-off and fake merchandise. The most common form of counterfeit goods (using a mark) is merchandise that looks like original high-end designer goods but these items will often have a copy or reproduction of the original logo such as Armani, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Gucci, Nike or Adidas. Anyone caught making, selling, offering to sell, distributing or possessing with the intent to sell goods containing a counterfeit trademark in Los Angeles is in violation of the law and may be arrested and prosecuted.

Proving a Counterfeit Case

In order to convict, the prosecutor must establish:

  • The defendant knowingly and willfully produced, sold, or possessed for sale counterfeit goods;
  • The counterfeit merchandise contained a “mark” that is officially registered with the Secretary of State or U.S. Principal Registry / Trademark Office, or is known to represent a particular brand.

The prosecution cannot bring a valid case against you without these elements. However, a conviction can lead to serious penalties, such as incarceration and fines. If the alleged offense involved products that would normally cost more than $950, or the offense involved more than 1,000 units of the item, the prosecution may charge the crime as a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison. In some cases involving less than 1000 units, with a value under $950, the crime may be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail.

The “Mistake of Fact” Defense

This strategy refers to any situation where the defendant did not knowingly sell or create the counterfeit goods. Without showing the defendant knew or reasonably should have known the merchandise was fake, the prosecutor may have some difficulty obtaining a conviction. If, for example, you unknowingly purchased a counterfeit bag and tried to resell it, you could not face criminal penalties because you assumed the mark was authentic. However, you might be charged if the price of your purchase or sale was well below the market value for non-counterfeit goods.

Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

Contact our attorneys to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case. We have more than 70 combined years of criminal law experience – let us use it to help you avoid a conviction and jail. All of the lawyers at our law firm are passionate, experienced, and skilled. If you are under investigation or arrested for selling counterfeit merchandise contact us before you speak to law enforcement and let us evaluate your case and explain your legal options to you. Any statements you make to the police will hurt you in ways you can't imagine – you may say something that will hurt your case significantly.