Legal Question in Criminal Law in Wisconsin

counterfeit money order

I just found that a roomate cashed a money order that was fake...I thought something was fishy when he came back with new car and lots of money...he just told me this when drinking, the wife and I dont want anything to do with this and want to make sure we dont get in trouble because he stayed with us...i am booting him for doing something so dumb while staying with us. Do we have anything to worry about?

Asked on 2/21/09, 1:41 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

JAY Nixon nixon law offices

Roommate Cashing Counterfeit Money Order, Party to the Crime Criminal Liability

You are absolutely at risk any time that you live with or otherwise associate yourself with anyone engaged in criminal activity. WI "party to the crime" criminal liability only requires that one somehow "stand ready to assist" another in any course of criminal conduct. If this is proven, the bystander can get just as long of a jail sentence as the primary perpetrator. Additionally, if you somehow benefit from the criminal activity, you become liable as a co-conspirator, again facing identical penalties to those faced by the main criminal himself. This could include involvement as trivial as accepting rent money from such a person. The only way to protect yourself is therefore to immediately make a full report of suspected criminal conduct to authorities and to totally disassociate yourself with the person in all aspects of your life. Please also be aware that my general comments in this online forum are not intended as legal advice for you unless you subsequently retain me; you therefore need to consult with your own lawyer before acting upon any other lawyer's views or comments.

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Answered on 2/23/09, 9:40 am
Jeffrey Murrell Law Office of Jeffrey L. Murrell

Re: counterfeit money order

Well, you had nothing to do with the planning and/or execution of the apparent crime, so in that respect you should have nothing to worry about. However, I think prosecutors could at least try to make a case that you then knowingly harbored a felon after you found out (I say "felon," because you make it seem as if the amount of the fake check in question was over $2,000, and that = felony in this state, generally speaking). Why would prosecutors want to also get you for this? Only God knows - I've seen prosecutors do a lot of starnge, unpredictable things in my career. So I think it would probably be in your best interests to report this to local law enforcement ASAP with the reasoning for the delay being, quite naturally, that you were afraid to do anything until this guy was out of your house and you could get all your locks changed. Good luck!

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Answered on 2/21/09, 10:01 am

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