New Jersey takes its laws punishing fraud like making, selling, and using fake IDs very seriously. Since technology can provide a fake ID with a high enough quality to be scanned by a point of sale system, many young adults think they have no chance of getting in trouble when illegally purchasing cigarettes or alcohol. Nevertheless, adolescents are apprehended, and the consequences are harsher than they thought when they do.
Getting caught with a fake ID doesn't mean a Gloucester County police officer will confiscate it and make an embarrassing call home to your parents. When the New Jersey criminal justice system prosecutes fake ID crimes, they don't just slap young adults on the wrist. Punishments include heavy fines and jail time. Convictions establish a criminal record that impacts a person's ability to apply for college or graduate school, secure a job requiring a professional license, and can even derail loan eligibility requirements.
If you or your child has been charged with breaking fake ID laws in Gloucester County, you need to contact an experienced and skilled attorney who can help you defend the allegations immediately. You don't want to watch idly by while a public defender fails to keep your child from the severe consequences of possessing, manufacturing, or selling fake IDs.
What Is a Fake ID?
Based on official documentation, only valid IDs are issued to a specific person by the State of New Jersey or the federal government. Fake ID violations come in many forms, and some examples of situations that constitute breaking the law include:
- Manufacturing, selling, or possessing a fake ID
- Altering your ID or someone else's
- Presenting someone else's ID as your own
- Using an expired ID
- Providing false information to obtain a government-issued ID
- Presenting a fake ID to a law enforcement authority figure
New Jersey Fake ID Laws
The New Jersey Statutes (N.J.S.A.) 2C:21-2.1 is the criminal statute outlining the laws against possessing, manufacturing, or selling a fake ID. These laws are broken down further as follows:
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1 (a), Possession and Sale of False Government Documents. 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 government-issued ID. Violators will face a second-degree felony charge.
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1 (b), Manufacturing False Government Documents. This law makes it illegal to knowingly make or have a device or materials to create a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued ID. Violators will face a second-degree felony charge as well.
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c), Displaying a False Document. This law makes it illegal to exhibit, display, or use a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued ID. Violators will face a third-degree felony charge.
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d), Possessing a False Document. This law makes it illegal to knowingly have a fraudulent driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued ID. Violators will face a fourth-degree felony charge.
N.J.S.A. 2C: 28-7, Tampering With Public Records or Information. This law makes it illegal to tamper with or alter an official document. Violators will face a third-degree felony charge.
New Jersey Fake ID Law Penalties
The punishments associated with breaking fake ID laws in Gloucester County will depend on the perpetrator's age. New Jersey law differentiates the severity of the charges between juveniles and adults.
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Gloucester County
Charges against New Jersey juveniles breaking fake ID laws are classified as “disorderly persons” offenses. Although they may sound less extreme than felonies, disorderly persons offenses can result in a punishment of up to a $1,000 fine, a six-month to a two-year suspension of the person's driver's license, and up to a six-month jail sentence. Moreover, if the person convicted is under the age of 17, the suspension of the driver's license will commence once the person turns 17.
Adult Fake ID Charges in Gloucester County
Anyone over the age of 18 breaking New Jersey fake ID laws will be handled as an adult, and all fake ID charges in New Jersey are categorized as felonies.
Second-degree offenses in New Jersey like 2C:21-2.1(a) and 2C:21-2.1(b) of the New Jersey Statutes carry a presumption of incarceration. Convicted adults can face maximum fines of up to $150,000 and a 5-year to a ten-year jail sentence.
Third-degree offenses don't have the presumption of incarceration as do first and second-degree offenses. However, those charged under 2C:21-2.1(c) and 2C: 28-7 of the New Jersey Statutes may face 3-5 years in prison if they are convicted. As well, there will be a maximum fine of $15,000.
Fourth-degree offenses are the least severe category of felonies under state law. There is no presumption of incarceration for an offense in a higher categorization of degrees. Still, a person may face up to 18 months in prison if they are convicted under 2C:21-2.1(d) of the New Jersey Statutes. Fourth-degree offenses also carry potential fines as high as $10,000.
Along with the punishment handed down by the Gloucester County court, a fake ID conviction can also carry serious damage. 2C:21-2.1(e) of the New Jersey Statues provides that anyone convicted of a fake ID charge also faces an automatic forfeiture of their driver's license for up to two years.
Not only will convictions under New Jersey fake IDs land you with fines and jail time, but they will also derail many opportunities, including:
- Qualifying for federal financing
- Applying for professional licenses
- Obtaining government jobs
- Enlisting in the U.S. military or New Jersey National Guard
- Revoking of immigration status if the convicted is not a U.S. citizen
- Inability to vote until all felony sentence requirements fulfilled
College Code of Conduct Issues With Fake IDs
In Gloucester County, college students can face severe consequences when using a fake ID, apart from those under state law. According to Rowan College of South Jersey's Code of Conduct, students “furnishing false information to any College official” will be subject to the school's disciplinary board. Students may also be charged with using fake IDs to assist another student cheat on exams or classwork.
At Gloucester County's Rowan College of South Jersey, a student found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct may receive a range of possible punishments, including:
- Community service
- Behavioral counseling
- Loss of residence hall privileges
- Transcript notation
- Revoking of degree or award
The penalties are severe for this type of misconduct. Students are also likely to suffer from collateral damage like losing their federal loan eligibility, positions in student government, part-time college jobs, and even internship opportunities through the school.
Defending Against Fake ID Charges in Gloucester County
Even though the laws on fake IDs may appear straightforward, an experienced attorney understands when and where particular defenses can be leveraged to help the accused maintain their innocence. For instance, charges brought under 2C:21-2.1(c) and 2C:21-2.1(d) of the New Jersey Statutes “will not be considered an offense…in a case where the person uses the personal identifying information of another to illegally purchase an alcoholic beverage…tobacco or other consumer product[s]…if the actor received only that benefit or service and did not perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any additional injury or fraud.”
Furthermore, knowledge of the crime and a specific intent to commit the crime are necessary elements of any crime of fraud or misrepresentation, such as a fake ID charge. This means if you or your child is in possession of a fake ID, but they are unaware that the ID is fake or had reason to believe it wasn't fake, no crime had been committed.
Yet, if you can't avoid the charge, there is still an option your defense attorney can exercise. If you or your child is subject to a third or fourth-degree fake ID charge in Gloucester County, you may qualify for pre-trial intervention. New Jersey's Pre-trial Intervention Program (PTI) provides defendants, generally first-time offenders, with adjudication alternatives to deter future criminal behavior through rehabilitative resources. PTI also grants adolescents the opportunity to bounce back from their actions as the charge is expunged upon completion of the PTI Program.
If you're accepted to the New Jersey PTI Program, instead of facing consequences like jail time, you will receive:
- Behavioral counseling
- Treatment recommendations
- Supervision under a probation officer
- Community service
- Alcohol or drug evaluation
- Mental health services
Contact a Gloucester County Fake ID Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of selling, possessing, or manufacturing fake IDs in Gloucester County, you need to immediately contact a skilled defense attorney. The New Jersey criminal justice system is already on its way to preparing its case and should be too.
Developing an early and strong defense strategy is essential to minimizing the consequences of fake ID charges and convictions on your life. Attorney Joseph D. Lento knows how to handle the multi-faceted approach in presenting a successful defense before state authorities and in front of your school's disciplinary board to mitigate the impacts of false ID accusations.
To learn how Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced team at the Lento Law Firm plan a strategic defense and fight for your rights after a fake ID charge in Gloucester County, call 888-535-3686 immediately or contact them through their online consultation form.