The State of New Jersey must carry out its laws governing the sale, possession, and creation of fake IDs used within its borders. As technology provides fake IDs that appear more authentic and easily scanned by barcode readers, the New Jersey criminal justice system is working harder to eliminate their usage. Adolescents and young adults in Salem County may think they have the newest form of fraudulent identification to subvert the law and purchase tobacco and alcohol illegally. They may believe that even if they get caught, the worst thing is an embarrassing call home from a Salem County law enforcement officer.
However, when young adults are apprehended, the consequences are much more severe than they thought. New Jersey doesn't take fake ID laws lightly. The effects can range from community service to fines north of $100,000 and years in jail. Punishments like this and others can quickly destroy future opportunities for young people. Once someone is convicted for possessing, manufacturing, or selling fake IDs, it will charter a criminal record that will negatively impact their ability to enroll in college, apply for professional licenses, and be eligible for a home or school loan.
What Is a Fake ID?
Official IDs are issued by the U.S. government or the State of New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission. Authentic documentation must support the identity of the person applying for it or the person presenting it. Some violations of New Jersey fake ID laws are:
- Using, selling, or making a fake ID
- Possession of equipment used to make fake IDs
- Changing the information or appearance of your ID or someone else's
- Utilizing an ID that is not your own
- Operating with an expired ID
- Presenting a police officer with a fake ID
- Using false information to acquire a government-issued ID
New Jersey Fake ID Laws
Within the New Jersey Statutes (N.J.S.A.), five areas of 2C:21-2.1 provide information on certain prohibited acts regarding fake IDs and subsequent categories of severity.
Possession and Sale of False Government Documents. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1 (a)states that knowingly selling, offering for sale, or possessing with intent to sell a fraudulent driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued IDs is subject to a second-degree felony charge.
Manufacturing False Government Documents. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1 (b) details that knowingly making or being in possession of a device or materials to manufacture fake driver's licenses, birth certificates, or other forms of government-issued IDs is a second-degree felony charge.
Displaying a False Document. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c) makes it illegal to exhibit, display, or use a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued ID, and violations are subject to a third-degree felony charge.
Possessing a False Document. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d) asserts that it is a fourth-degree felony to knowingly possess a false driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued IDs.
Tampering With Public Records or Information. N.J.S.A. 2C: 28-7 makes tampering with or altering an official document illegal and subject to a third-degree felony charge.
New Jersey Fake ID Law Penalties
Fake ID charges against those under the age of 18 are classified in New Jersey as “disorderly persons” offenses. Even though the name may sound less intimidating than a felony, they still carry with them strict punishments. Disorderly persons offenses for juveniles can result in a fine of up to $1,000, up to a two-year suspension of the person's driver's license, and a maximum jail sentence of six months. Additionally, if the perpetrator is under the age of 17, the suspension of the driver's license will commence once the person turns 17.
Nevertheless, anyone over the age of 18 will face felony charges. In New Jersey, there are four degrees of felonies, with “first degree” as the most severe and “fourth degree” as the least severe.
Second-degree offenses like 2C:21-2.1(a) and 2C:21-2.1(b) of the New Jersey Statutes include a presumption of incarceration. Convictions carry a maximum fine of $150,000 for the offense and a jail sentence of a minimum of five years and a maximum of ten years.
Third-degree offenses do not include a presumption of incarceration. However, Salem County individuals charged with fake ID crimes under 2C:21-2.1(c) and 2C: 28-7 of the New Jersey Statutes can face a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years in prison with a conviction. The maximum imposed fine for a third-degree offense is $15,000.
Fourth-degree offenses also have no presumption of incarceration. Still, someone convicted under 2C:21-2.1(d) of the New Jersey Statutes may have a maximum jail sentence of 18 months and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Along with the punishment handed down by the Salem County court, a fake ID conviction can also carry serious collateral 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, lasting 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:
- Being eligible to receive federal loans for homes or school
- Beginning the process to obtain a professional license
- Applying for government jobs or for jobs requiring a security clearance
- Enlisting in the New Jersey National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces
- Rescinding of immigration status if the convicted is not a U.S. citizen
- Banned from voting in elections until the fulfillment of all felony sentence requirements
High School and College Code of Conduct Violations With Fake IDs
Not all rules surrounding fake IDs are under state agency purview. At Salem County's Penns Grove High School, if students falsify original documentation like doctors' notes to get out of school, it will result in an out-of-school suspension of up to five days. Moreover, it may affect students' eligibility to engage in extracurricular activities like club events and sports. It will also be noted on a student's permanent record that will be seen by college admissions personnel, potentially placing the student further down in the applicant queue.
The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) states in its Code of Conduct that it is against personal integrity policy for students “falsifying, or being party to the falsification, of any official College identification card, record or document.” TCNJ also prohibits the “possession, use, manufacture, or sale of a falsified identification card, document, or record.”
A TCNJ student will be subject to the school's grievance process, and if they are found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct, they will receive a range of possible punishments, including:
- Academic probation
- Community service hours
- Behavioral counseling
- Loss of guest privileges
- Removal from student committees or activities
- Official transcript notation
- Revoking of degree or award
Students violating the school's fake ID rules are also likely to suffer from losing their federal loan eligibility, on-campus jobs, and internship opportunities provided through the school.
Defending Against Fake ID Charges in Salem County
Although New Jersey's laws governing the possession, manufacture, and sale of fake IDs may appear forthright, a skilled defense attorney knows the nuances of the law and what can provide for a better outcome for the accused. For example, charges under 2C:21-2.1(c) and 2C:21-2.1(d) of the New Jersey Statutes will not be considered if a person uses an identity other than their own to illegally purchase alcohol or tobacco if the person received “only that benefit or service” and did not engage in any act to “perpetrate any additional injury or fraud.”
It's important to note that convictions of crimes of fraud and misrepresentation in New Jersey depend upon specific intent. For instance, if you or your child possesses a fake ID and is not aware that the ID in their possession is fake or had a reason to believe that it was valid, they will not be charged with a crime.
If you must face the charges, though, there is an option your defense attorney can help you exercise. If you or your child is subject to a third or fourth-degree fake ID charge in Salem County, a pre-trial intervention may be allowed. New Jersey's Pre-trial Intervention Program (PTI) provides first-time offenders with adjudication alternatives. Rehabilitative measures seek to deter future criminal behavior, saving young adults from the beginning of a criminal record. Upon acceptance into New Jersey's PTI Program, instead of expensive fines and possible jail time, the person will receive:
- Behavioral and mental health counseling
- Supervision by the state
- Community service
- Evaluations and testing for drug and alcohol abuse
Once a person completes the PTI Program, the charge will be expunged from their record and preserve a young adult's future opportunities.
Contact a Salem County Fake ID Defense Attorney
If you or your child is accused of selling, possessing, or manufacturing fake IDs in Salem County, you need to contact an experienced and skilled attorney who can help you defend the allegations immediately. The New Jersey criminal justice system is intimidating, and you don't want an inexperienced public defender holding your child's future in their hands.
Developing an early and strong defense strategy is essential to minimizing the consequences of fake ID charges and convictions on your or your child's 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 lessen the impact of fake ID accusations.
Learn how Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced team at the Lento Law Firm plan strategic defenses to protect your rights in Salem County. Call 888-535-3686 or contact them through their online consultation form.