Is It Illegal to Destroy Money in Nevada?
When it comes to money, there are a lot of rules and regulations. We generally do not think about them apart from our salaries and paying bills. But being one of the global currencies, the US dollar is regulated and has certain laws in place to ensure its integrity.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the law in Nevada surrounding the destruction of money. We’ll answer some common questions about the topic, such as what exactly is considered money in Nevada, what are the penalties for breaking the law, and whether or not there are any exceptions.
What Is the Legal Definition of Money
First, let’s look at what the legal definition of “money” is. Generally, money includes coins and paper currency issued by the United States government. This also includes old or damaged currency such as bills that have been torn, defaced, or mutilated.
Nevada does not have any specific regulations about money and legal tender because the US Consitution reserves this power to the Congress. According to Article 1, Section 8:
[The Congress shall have Power . . . ] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; . . .
Further, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 of the US Constitution limits the powers of States to coin money (i.e. create its own money). It reads:
“No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.”
Is It Illegal to Destroy Money in Nevada
The short answer is yes, it is illegal to destroy money in Nevada.
As mentioned earlier, money laws are complicated. The two laws below are just the most commonly cited ones about destroying or mutilating money. There are other laws about counterfeiting, forgery, and possessing stolen or counterfeit notes.
18 U.S. Code § 331 reads:
“Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
18 U.S. Code § 333 – Mutilation of national bank obligations reads:
Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
This law applies to all forms of currency, whether it is in coins or paper. And this extends to all states, not just in Nevada.
Want to burn your money just like in the movies? You can’t.
Want to scar your coins just like Two-Face in Batman? You can’t.
Both instances are considered illegal and, frankly, just a waste of money. In addition, you could face penalties.
Penalties for Destroying Money in Nevada
While prosecutions are rare, getting arrested does happen.
One of the high-profile cases of destroying money is that of an 18-year old marine who was sentenced to one year of probation and imposed a fine for mutilating coins.
The penalties for destroying money differ on the actual circumstances. For example,
- Mutilating bank notes – the penalty can range from a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both.
- Fraudulently altering coins (or knowingly possessing altered coins) – the penalty can be up to 5 years in jail, a fine, or both.
- Debasing gold or silver coins (i.e. removing some of the gold or silver so the coin weights less) – the penalty can go as high as 10 years in prison and a fine
Are There Any Exceptions to the Law Against Destroying Money
Yes, there are a few exceptions to the laws against destroying money. But it’s not what you might think.
There are only three groups/agencies that can destroy money:
- The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing which creates all of the nation’s bills,
- U.S. mint which creates its coins.
- The Federal Reserve
Banks and individuals will hand over “mutilated” bills and coins to these agencies. They then validate its authenticity and issue a Treasury check in return. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing receives around 25,000 mutilated currency redemption claims annually. Each bill is shredded and sent to waste energy facilities for disposal.
If in Doubt, Contact the Defenders
In conclusion, destroying money is illegal and it’s not something to joke about. If you have money in any form that you are no longer going to use for its designated purpose, or if it has become unusable due to damage, it is best to take it to the appropriate agency for disposal.
It may seem like a small thing, but it is actually against the law and carries serious consequences. It is best to avoid these penalties and handle your money responsibly. And if you’re ever in doubt about laws surrounding money, please consult with an attorney for clarification.
Hiring a lawyer who understands and knows the law and how court systems function is essential if you have been charged with a crime. A criminal defense lawyer will apply their legal skills and years of courtroom experience to the specifics of your case. Every case is different and requires a different approach.
Navigating the criminal justice system without a lawyer is not a good idea and can be very confusing, frustrating, and risky.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is connected to others within the legal system, so your case won’t be the attorney’s first experience in court. Our defense attorneys know the procedures, the courtroom personnel, the judges, the jury selection process, and the loopholes.
- Will aggressively put in all efforts to get the penalties lowered.
- Can help you achieve fair settlements or plea deals.
- Can protect you from the prosecution.
- Can examine the evidence better than you.
- Will fight for your rights to help keep your criminal history clean.
Whether you’ve been charged with drug crimes, DUI’s, assault, a misdemeanor or a felony, The Defenders will work hard to vigorously defend you throughout every stage of your case. Call us today for a strategy session to discuss your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to destroy money?
Yes. Individuals cannot destroy money, coins, or other legal tender. Penalties for destroying money can range from fines and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.
How do I dispose of old currency?
If you have money in any form that you are no longer going to use for its designated purpose, or if it has become unusable due to damage, you should take it to the appropriate agency such as the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, U.S. Mint, or Federal Reserve Bank for disposal. In some cases, you can have them replaced through your local bank.
What are the penalties for destroying money?
The penalties for destroying money depend on the actual circumstances, such as mutilating bank notes (which can range from a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 6 months), fraudulently altering coins (up to 5 years in jail and a fine) or debasing gold or silver coins (up to 10 years in prison and a fine).