The use of fake IDs is common amongst underage individuals who want to access the ability to buy and consume alcohol and enter bars and nightclubs. While fake ID charges are most commonly thought of as something that only individuals under the age of 21 face, there are several laws outlining the seriousness of fake ID charges for those that are considered adults. In New Jersey, a fake ID charge can result in a serious felony charge and potential jail or prison time. If you are facing a fake ID charge in New Jersey, then it is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney's assistance as soon as possible.
What Qualifies as a Fake ID?
A fake ID can be any writing, document, or card that contains false information about the owner's name, age, address, or other personal information. If you possess, make, or attempt to use an ID that you know or have reason to know is fake, then you can be charged with a fake ID criminal offense under New Jersey law. If you are accused of falsifying or using a falsified federal document such as a passport, then you can face federal felony charges. For the falsification or use of a state-issued ID, birth certificate, or other documents, then you will likely only be facing criminal charges under state law. As you can see, a fake ID can be many things; not just a fake driver's license that falsely makes you the legal drinking age. Some people will try to use someone else's real ID and pretend they are the person on the ID. Even though this ID is technically real, you can still be charged with a fake ID offense for using someone else's ID.
What are Fake IDs used for?
Fake IDs are most commonly thought of as young people offenses involving the attempted buying and consuming of alcohol. The use of fake IDs can be much more serious than that, however. A falsified document such as a fake ID can be used for a variety of criminal activity, including:
- Identity theft
- Illegal immigration
- Renting a car
- Bank fraud
- Check fraud
- Credit card fraud
These are just some of the more serious crimes that can be committed with the use of a fake ID. Fake IDs are no longer just a crime that applies to just underage kids trying to buy alcohol or get into a bar; fake ID crimes are viewed as a potential threat to local and national security by police and prosecutors. As such, police and prosecuting authorities may examine and investigate you further if it is believed that your fake ID was used for fraudulent activity under New Jersey law. If you are charged with a fake ID offense as an adult, then it is imperative that you take the charges seriously as a conviction for a fake ID charge can have serious and long-lasting effects.
What New Jersey Laws are There Against Fake IDs?
New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.1 is the main criminal statute that outlines the laws against producing, using, or possessing a false governmental identification. The New Jersey Fake ID laws are further broken down into five different categories; they are as follows:
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.1(a): This law makes it illegal to knowingly sell, offer for sale, or possess with intent to sell a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other governmentally-issued forms of identification. A conviction under this law will result in a second-degree felony conviction.
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.1(b): This law makes it illegal to knowingly make or be in possession of a device or materials to make a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other governmentally-issued forms of identification. A conviction under this law will also result in a second-degree felony conviction.
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.1(c): This law makes it illegal to exhibit, display, or use a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other governmentally-issued form of identification. A conviction under this law will result in a third-degree felony conviction.
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:21-2.1(d): This law makes it illegal to possess a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other governmentally-issued forms of identification. A conviction under this law will result in a fourth-degree felony conviction.
- New Jersey Statutes 2C:28-7(b): This law makes it illegal to tamper or attempt to alter a real document or record to change information on the document or record. An example of this is using a real ID but changing the information on the ID to falsify an individual's name, age, or other personal information. If you are accused of attempting to defraud or injury someone through the use of this altered document or record, then a conviction under this law will result in a third-degree felony conviction.
For charges under 2C:21-2.1(c) and 2C:21-2.1(d), it will not be considered an offense under either of these sections if the person charged used the fake ID to obtain alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or any other item that is denied to individuals under the age of 21. The person charged must also not perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any further fraud with the alleged fake ID. It is possible to be charged with multiple fake ID charges depending on the facts and circumstances alleged in your case.
What are the Potential Penalties for a Fake ID Charge?
Unless you are facing a juvenile fake ID charge, then you will likely be facing a criminal felony in New Jersey. Juvenile fake ID charges are classified as disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, which can result in a punishment of up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and an automatic suspension of your driver's license. All other fake ID charges in New Jersey are categorized as felonies. In New Jersey, criminal felony charges are further broken down into four different degrees of severity; they are as follows:
- First-degree offense: First-degree offenses in New Jersey are considered the most serious criminal offenses. Offenses that are classified as first-degree offenses in New Jersey include murder, manslaughter, and rape. There is a presumption of incarceration and if you are convicted of a first-degree offense, then you can face 10-20 years in prison or more. First-degree offenses also carry potential fines that can be as high as $200,000. There are no fake ID charges in the state of New Jersey that qualify as a first-degree offense.
- Second-degree offense: Second-degree offenses in New Jersey are the next most serious criminal offenses. Offenses that are classified as second-degree offenses in New Jersey include burglary, certain drug crimes, and kidnapping. There is a presumption of incarceration and if you are convicted of a second-degree offense, then you can face 5-10 years in prison. Second-degree offenses also carry potential fines that can be as high as $150,000. Two New Jersey fake ID offenses are categorized as second-degree offenses. These offenses, as discussed above, can be found at 2C:21-2.1(a) and 2C:21-2.1(b) of the New Jersey Statutes.
- Third-degree offense: Third-degree offenses in New Jersey are the next most serious category of felonies under state law. Offenses that are classified as third-degree offenses in New Jersey include possession of illegal drugs, unlawful possession of a handgun, or certain types of theft. There is no presumption of incarceration as outlined for first- and second-degree offenses, but you can still face 3-5 years in prison if you are convicted. Third-degree offenses also carry potential fines that can be as high as $15,000. One New Jersey fake ID offense is categorized as a third-degree offense. This offense, as discussed above, can be found at 2C:21-2.1(c) of the New Jersey Statutes.
- Fourth-degree offense: Fourth-degree offenses in New Jersey are the least serious category of felonies under state law. Offenses that are classified as fourth-degree offenses in New Jersey include minor robbery offenses, forgery, and stalking. There is no presumption of incarceration as outlines for first- and second-degree offenses, you can still face up to 18 months in prison if you are convicted. Fourth-degree offenses also carry potential fines that can be as high as $10,000. One New Jersey fake ID offense is categorized as a fourth-degree offense. This offense, as discussed above, can be found at 2C:21-2.1(d).
As you can see, fake ID charges potentially have serious consequences under the law. If you are currently facing a fake ID charge, then it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Collateral Consequences of a Fake ID Conviction
Along with the punishment that is handed down by the court, a fake ID conviction can also carry serious collateral consequences. The most direct collateral consequence is outlined in the fake ID statute at 2C:21-2.1(e), which states that anyone convicted for a fake ID charge under the same statute also faces an automatic forfeiture of their driver's license. This period will be fixed by the court and can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. If you are under 17 years old and are convicted of a fake ID charge, then this suspension of your license will commence once you turn 17. Other collateral consequences of a fake ID conviction can include the problems that people face when they have a felony conviction on their criminal record. This can result in the inability to qualify for certain jobs, housing, and federal financing. In New Jersey, you are also not allowed to vote until you complete all of the terms of your felony sentence. This includes any jail time, probation, and the payment of all court costs and fines. A crime involving dishonesty such as a fake ID charge can also have immigration consequences, including possible deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen. You may also have problems enlisting for a branch of the United States Military if you have a fake ID conviction on your criminal record.
What are the Potential Defenses to a Fake ID Charge?
For a prosecutor to be successful in a criminal case, he or she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime charged. To win a fake ID case, a prosecutor will have to prove that you either were knowingly producing, using, or possessing a fake ID of some kind. If a prosecutor has evidence of fake ID sales, fake-ID producing machinery, or witnesses that claim that you used a fake ID, then they will use that evidence against you to prove that you were knowingly doing something against the law. Knowledge of the crime and a specific intent to commit the crime are necessary elements to any crime of fraud or misrepresentation, such as a fake ID charge. Simply being in possession of a fake ID is not against the law unless you knew or had reason to know that the ID was fake. You also had to have known or had reason to know that you were in possession of a fake ID. Simple possession without knowledge of possession of a fake ID does not amount to criminality. Some of the potential defenses that exist in relation to Fake ID charges include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of possession
- Illegally obtained evidence
These are just some of the main defenses that are available against a fake ID charge. To determine what potential defenses are available in your case, make sure you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
The Potential of Pre-Trial Intervention for a Fake ID Charge
If your fake ID charge is a third- or fourth-degree offense, then you may qualify for pre-trial intervention, which can keep a criminal conviction off of your record. Generally, you must be a first-time offender who is non-violent to have a good chance of being accepted into a pre-trial intervention program. Pre-trial intervention is a first-offender program that allows those charged with criminal offenses to enter into a probationary contract with the judge and prosecutor's office that can last as long as three years. During this time, you will be expected to follow specific rules and follow the orders given by the judge. It is common to be drug tested, report to probation, and complete community service while on a pre-trial intervention. If you can complete all of the terms of your pre-trial intervention successfully, then your fake ID charge will be dismissed entirely. This will allow you to maintain a clean criminal record if you have previously never been convicted of a crime. Not all fake ID charges qualify for pre-trial intervention. You will have to request pre-trial intervention in writing if you wish to resolve your case in that fashion. You have 28 days from the day you were indicted on your criminal charge to seek pre-trial intervention from the prosecutor's office. If you are denied pre-trial intervention by the prosecutor's office, then you have the right to appeal that decision to a superior court judge.
How an Attorney Can Help with a Fake ID Charge
One of the first and most important things that an attorney can do when reviewing a fake ID charge is to assess the strength of the case and charges against you. Understanding all of the present factors and circumstances is crucial to properly determine what potential defenses are available in your case. Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case, then you will be able to make confident, well-reasoned decisions about how to go forward with your case. If the police obtained your ID through illegal means that are against the constitution or state law, then your attorney can bring this issue up in front of the judge in the form of a motion to suppress evidence. If there is a mistake in the facts and you are being wrongly accused, then your attorney can assert that defense in a trial in front of a jury or judge. Whatever your potential defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law as it applies to you so you can be best positioned for success in your case. If you have legal questions, call us at the Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you are facing a criminal charge related to a fake ID in New Jersey, then it is important to seek an experienced criminal defense attorney's advice. Fake ID charges can vary greatly, as can the potential punishment. Understanding the parameters of your fake ID charge is imperative to formulating the appropriate defense strategy. The attorneys at the Lento Law Firm have the necessary knowledge and experience that you need to help you find success with your case. To learn why the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help you fight your fake ID charge, call us toll-free at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.