With that in mind, you may infer that it is indeed prohibited to "mutilate, cut, deface, disfigure, or perforate, or combine or cement together" any bank bill, draft, note, or evidence of debt issued by a national or federal body. It is also an offence to possess such items with intent to commit any of these acts.
However, it is not illegal to paint on money itself. The act of mutilating, cutting, defacing, etc. notes is commonly called "banking" and is strictly forbidden because it can make those notes harder to find in the future. However, painting notes is an art form in itself and many painters produce works worth thousands of dollars.
In fact, some people collect old bills with interesting artwork on them. These collections are sold at auction houses around the country.
It is important to understand that although this article says it is not illegal to paint on money, this does not mean that everyone will let you. Some people may have issues with someone else's choice of artwork or want to claim their money as their own. In cases like these, you should consider others' opinions before starting your own project.
Section 333 of the United States Criminal Code states that "whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does anything else to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System." is guilty of a felony.
This section was added by Congress in response to problems with counterfeit currency during and after World War II. Prior to this addition, damaging federal property was not a crime. Since its introduction, Section 333 has been used only twice, both times for vandalism involving bills from the Federal Reserve system.
The first case involved an unemployed factory worker who destroyed $40,000 in cash by burning it in a dumpster. He was found guilty under Section 333 and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. The second case involved another burned dollar bill, this time worth $4,700, stolen from a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The thief was also convicted under Section 333 and sent to prison for two years.
People have been arrested for violating Section 333 over the years, but most cases are handled under common law crimes such as destruction of private property or theft from a bank. Actual damage requirements may be met if checks are written against damaged funds or if the value of the missing money exceeds $1,000.
Is it thus criminal to write on money? Can you deface it without the big evil government deploying a SWAT squad in a helicopter to your door? The quick answer is that you can lawfully write on the edges of money. BUT there's a bit more to it than that. The law also allows for the defacement of currency through the use of chemicals to make them unacceptably faint to be useful.
The reason why writing on money is not illegal is because it is considered "fair use" under copyright law. This means that if someone wants to write on their cash, they have the legal right to do so as long as they are not making profit off of it. So in other words, if I wrote "Give me your money or I'll shoot you" on $100 bills, it would be legal because I am not trying to make any money off of it. However, if I wrote "Give me your money or I'll shoot you" on $10 bills and sold these at gun shows, that would be illegal because I was clearly trying to make profit off of writing on money.
So yes, it is legal to write on money as long as you aren't making profit off of it. But if you do choose to write on cash, please be careful not to contaminate it with chemicals since the law allows for such currency.
In the United States, burning money is unlawful and punishable by up to ten years in jail, not to mention penalties. It's also prohibited to break a dollar bill or even flatten a penny on the train rails under the weight of a locomotive.
There are two reasons why this is so: first, paper currency has no real value beyond what people believe it has; second, if everyone began burning their dollars, they would have no value at all. Thus, they would be worthless junk paper - which they are not.
Currency values fluctuate over time as well as across currencies. So, someone who owns an American dollar today might sell it tomorrow for more or less than they bought it for. There are times when Americans have had trouble getting cash out of their banks because there is too much money chasing too few goods, which can cause prices to fall.
At other times, such as right now, there is plenty of cash available to spend, so prices are likely to rise.
Money isn't just pieces of paper that count down to zero; it also represents something valuable - information - that can be used to purchase products and services. If everyone stopped using dollars overnight, there would be nothing special about them any longer, so they could not be replaced with impunity.
It is, in fact, lawful! Many people believe that stamping or writing on paper cash is unlawful, however they are mistaken! You are not permitted to burn, shred, or destroy cash in order to render it unsuitable for circulation. However, you are allowed to write on currency.
Writing on banknotes is useful for many reasons. If you have received an amount of cash in a single payment then writing the date on the note will help identify any errors that may have been made by the bank during processing. It also allows you to record other information such as account numbers or even notes regarding the transaction. Writing on banknotes is legal because it does not affect their durability or value. Paper money becomes less valuable if it is not used so writing on its surface will never increase nor decrease its worth.
There are two types of writing that are acceptable on banknotes: official stamps and signatures. Official stamps must be printed by government authorities and they can be used by banks to confirm the authenticity of their documents. Signature seals can only be used by lawyers or notaries public and they authenticate written statements or agreements.
Illegal writings include names, addresses, and postage rates. These items can only be placed by officials at specified locations on banknotes. Engraved initials are also prohibited because they can be used to counterfeit more money.
That is, burning money may be deemed protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code, which was enacted in 1948, makes ripping up or burning money a criminal. Several states have similar laws on the books.
Burning or destroying currency has been prohibited by law since 1879 when Congress passed the Legal Tender Act, which provided that gold and silver could not be used as currency if they were held in reserve by the federal government at the Federal Reserve Bank. The act also provided that if gold or silver were received by the Treasury Department for payment of debts, they should be surrendered for redemption into legal tender funds.