Fake IDs Are a Common Bergen County Issue
Bergen County residents need not ignore the obvious: some high school and college students in Bergen County acquire, possess, and use fake identification. Go to any Bergen County club, bar, or other entertainment center or retail outlet selling beer, liquor, tobacco products, and vaping materials. You'll see very young-looking patrons walking in and out, purchasing, carrying, and consuming items reserved for adults. For at least some high school students and underage college students, fake identification is Bergen County's illicit passport into an adult's life. Hackensack, Paramus, Ridgewood, Englewood, Fort Lee, or Teaneck, it doesn't matter. Bergen County, New Jersey's most populous county, has large school districts and popular colleges around which underage students find enough peer pressure and opportunity to party in adult locations and use adult products obtained with a fake ID. Without blaming any particular school, Bergen Community College in Paramus, Felician University in Rutherford, and Ramapo College in Mahwah, among other Bergen County colleges and universities, and school districts from the largest in Hackensack on down, contribute to a high prevalence of fake ID sales, purchases, possession, and use. Students use fake IDs for college and university transportation, computer access, recreational facility access, library materials, and other services and benefits. Adults also use fake IDs for jobs, firearm purchases, and other rights and privileges. But underage minors are the big market for fake IDs.
Fake IDs Are Big, Not Small, Bergen County Issues
Everyone knows the lore that fake IDs are more like a rite of passage than a serious criminal risk and public health issue. What's the harm in a little youthful indiscretion, especially if one's peers at Bergen Community College, Felician University, Ramapo College, or the local high school in Teaneck, Englewood, or Paramus expect or demand it? But lore is often wrong or misleading. And that's especially true about the fake IDs. Bergen County students and their parents need to know that fake IDs are anything but innocent. Manufacturing, buying, selling, lending, possessing, or using a fake ID are New Jersey crimes, the consequences of which are serious enough to damage a young person's reputation, record, and future. Your high school student or underage college student might not only get convicted of a crime placed on your student's criminal record but also suffer high school, college, or university discipline right up to suspension or expulsion. See the problems? You care for your underage student. You care deeply. If your Bergen County high school or underage college student has been arrested and charged with a New Jersey fake ID crime, your student needs skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney representation to avoid the worst consequences.
New Jersey Criminalizes Bergen County Fake IDs
You and your Bergen County high school or underage college student may think that presenting a fake ID for some purpose, like to buy beer or vaping materials in a Paramus, Hackensack, or Edgewood establishment, is, at most a civil infraction resulting in a small fine. That supposition is dangerously incorrect. You and your Bergen County high school or underage college student may also think that the only fake ID wrongs involve selling a fake ID or an underage minor using a fake ID to buy alcohol. Once again, that supposition is dangerously incorrect. New Jersey fake ID laws make virtually any activity relating to a fake ID, not just a civil infraction but a criminal offense. And while some of those fake ID criminal offenses are only disorderly persons offenses at the lower level of New Jersey crimes, other fake ID criminal offenses climb the rungs up to fourth-degree, third-degree, and even second-degree criminal offenses, which is a very serious New Jersey crime. Fake ID crime can also induce and facilitate other, even more serious crimes, including crimes involving alcohol, sex, and violence. Don't let your Bergen County high school or underage college student head off to school with the wrong supposition about fake IDs. Convince them of their need to entirely avoid any conduct in any way related to fake IDs. And if they get caught and charged over a fake ID, nonetheless, retain a skilled and experienced Bergen County fake ID defense attorney to help them achieve the best possible outcome through New Jersey's criminal process.
Tampering With an ID in Bergen County
The least serious of the New Jersey fake ID crimes involves tampering with a public record. A public record includes a state identification or driver's license. If Bergen County prosecutors charge your minor student with tampering, your student faces only a disorderly persons offense. Note, though, that a disorderly persons offense, the lowest-level fake ID crime, still carries a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to six months. New Jersey Statute Section 2C:28-7 authorizes tampering charges when your student does any one of the following three acts:
- "(1) Knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, any record, document or thing belonging to, or received or kept by, the government for information or record, or required by law to be kept by others for information of the government." An example would be if your student modified a state identification or driver's license to change the birthdate;
- "(2) Makes, presents, offers for filing, or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false, and with purpose that it be taken as a genuine part of information or records referred to in paragraph (1)." An example would be if your minor student presented a modified driver's license to enter a club that only permitted adults to enter; or
- "(3) Purposely and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes, mutilates, or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of any such record, document or thing." An example would be if your student covered over the correct birthdate in favor of an older birthdate.
Possessing a Fake ID in Bergen County
Possession is New Jersey's next-most-serious fake ID crime. Bergen County prosecutors have the discretion to charge many tampering offenses as a higher-level possession crime. Count your student fortunate if they instead charge only tampering. Possession is a fourth-degree offense carrying a fine of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to eighteen months. New Jersey Statute Section 2C:21-2.1(d) authorizes possession charges against your Bergen County minor student simply for possessing, even though not using, fake government ID as follows:
"A person who knowingly possesses a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate, or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree."
Using a Fake ID in Bergen County
Using a fake ID is New Jersey's next-more-serious fake ID crime. Using a fake ID is a third-degree offense carrying a fine of up to $15,000 and incarceration of up to five years. If Bergen County police arrest your student for using a fake ID to try to buy alcohol, count your minor student fortunate that Bergen County prosecutors typically charge first-time offender minor students with only the disorderly persons-level tampering offense. If, though, your minor student buys the alcohol, prosecutors would likely add a minor in possession (MIP) charge. They may also add a charge for assuming another's identity if your student, in fact, using another's ID rather than modifying his or her own. New Jersey Statute Section 2C:21-2.1(c) authorizes use charges as follows:
"A person who knowingly exhibits, displays, or utters a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate, or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information is guilty of a crime of the third degree."
Selling a Fake ID in Bergen County
Selling a fake ID is New Jersey's next-most serious fake ID crime. Bergen County prosecutors charge selling a fake ID as a second-degree offense carrying a fine of up to $150,000 and incarceration for five to ten years. You can see the extraordinary potential penalties your student could face for selling fake IDs. Bergen County prosecutors know how extraordinary those penalties are and may charge minor selling offenses as the above lower crimes, either at their own discretion or with appropriate advocacy from the criminal defense attorney you retain to defend your student. New Jersey Statute Section 2C:21-2.1(a) criminalizes as a second-degree offense selling a fake ID:
"A person who knowingly sells, offers or exposes for sale, or otherwise transfers, or possesses with the intent to sell, offer or expose for sale, or otherwise transfer, a document, printed form or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate, or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information is guilty of a crime of the second degree."
Other Impacts of Bergen County Fake ID Convictions
New Jersey fake ID crimes can carry serious collateral consequences for your Bergen County minor student. One consequence is that your student will lose his or her driver's license for at least six months and up to two years. New Jersey Statute Section 2C:21-2.1(e) imposes that penalty for all the above fake ID crimes. Your Bergen County high school or college student may also face many hours of community service. High schools in Ridgewood, Fort Lee, Paramus, and across Bergen County, and Bergen County colleges and universities, also discipline students who commit crimes of dishonesty like fake ID crimes. School suspension or expulsion is not out of the question. But the loss of school sports, clubs, and social privileges may alternatively be your student's school penalty, along with loss of school honors and awards. A criminal conviction can also keep your student from getting into a preferred college or university program and can affect jobs and careers, too.
Retain a Skilled New Jersey Fake ID Defense Attorney for Bergen County Charges
Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Criminal Defense Team and preeminent New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your Bergen County high school or college student's best outcome to fake ID charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now for skilled and experienced Bergen County fake ID defense.