What Can a Columbus, Ohio Defense Lawyer Do Regarding Criminal Simulation?

One of the first things a defense attorney should do for a potential client is explain what being charged with the alleged offense of “criminal simulation” means. The phrase is unfamiliar and seams to suggest a C.S.I.-style crime scene reconstruction rather than a misdemeanor or felony.

Simply put, the actions the Ohio Revised Code call criminal simulation are particular types of counterfeiting and forging items, photographs, films, sound recordings, or markings on bottles of alcohol. The crime involved in criminal simulation is illegally profiting from portraying something as having more authenticity and value than it actually has.

Criminal simulation falls into the broad category of theft and fraud. Penalties for a conviction include months to years in jail and high fines. Another thing a Columbus criminal defense lawyer can do for a client who faces a criminal simulation charge is develop and execute a plan for securing an acquittal or negotiating a beneficial plea deal.

Defining Criminal Simulation

To quote section 2913.32 of the Ohio Revised Code, the actions that constitute criminal simulation are any of the following:

  • Making or altering an “object so that it appears to have value because of antiquity, rarity, curiosity, source, or authorship, which it does not in fact possess;”
  • “Making, retouching, editing, or reproducing any photograph, movie film, video tape, phonograph record, or recording tape” in order to deceive viewers of listeners;
  • Falsely or fraudulently making, simulating, forging, altering, or counterfeiting “any wrapper, label, stamp, cork, or cap prescribed by the liquor control commission;”
  • Falsely or fraudulently paying for or requesting the making, simulating, forging, altering, or counterfeiting of “any wrapper, label, stamp, cork, or cap prescribed by the liquor control commission;”
  • Using “any wrapper, label, stamp, cork, or cap prescribed by the liquor control commission” more than once; or
  • Uttering or possessing with the purpose of uttering an object that has been forged or counterfeited.

The broader state statute on theft and fraud defines “uttering” as “showing.” The statutory language is “to issue, publish, transfer, use, put or send into circulation, deliver, or display.” Additionally, forgery in this instance means more than passing a bad check or copying someone else’s signature without their authorization. Here, forging involves creating or altering text on a label or in a document.

Examples of activities that could become a charge for criminal simulation include, but are not limited to,

  • Artificially aging a document or piece of furniture in order to sell it for a higher price,
  • Producing and charging for fake online videos,
  • Printing counterfeit tax stamps for liquor bottles, and
  • Affixing fake labels on wine bottles.

As with other types of theft and fraud, criminal simulation requires knowledge and intent of wrongdoing. This means that simply being mistaken about the age of a purported antique or the authenticity of a liquor tax stamp should not be sufficient to charge a person with this crime.

Valid Defenses Against a Criminal Simulation Charge Exist

Police and prosecutors must prove that the person charged with criminal simulation knew they were engaging in specific kinds of forgery, counterfeiting, or uttering. They must also show conclusively that the person charged with the offense acted with the intent of profiting from the alleged fraud. A dedicated Columbus Ohio defense lawyer will hold them to those obligations.

Solid defenses include documenting honest mistakes, establishing a history of boasting, and intending to engage in satire or offer commentary. Just as it is not a crime to mistakenly trust an object’s purported authenticity, it is not illegal to simply lie about something being older or more expensive if no one is asked to pay an inflated price for the item. Regarding photos and films, those works can be altered for comedic, editorial, or artistic purposes without becoming criminal simulations.

Possible Penalties for a Conviction on a Charge of Criminal Simulation

A single charge for an alleged act of criminal simulation that yields less than $1,000 in illegal profits for the perpetrator will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor of the first degree. The maximum statutory penalties for that level of offense in Ohio are 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The judge in such a case also has the authority to order the payment of restitution.

Realizing illegal gains of $1,000 or more from criminal simulation results in a felony charge. The degree of the alleged felony increases as the amount of fraudulent gain increases. Maximum penalties for felony convictions in Ohio start at one year in jail.

Colin Maher of The Maher Law Firm is available to provide advice and representation in all theft and fraud cases. You can contact him online or speak with Colin directly by calling (614) 205-2208 for a free phone consultation.

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