When your high school or college-age child faces a criminal charge, you're no doubt worried about what can happen. If they're facing a charge for using a fake ID, the charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, and you're right to be concerned about the consequences. Aside from a possible jail sentence or fines, a criminal record can affect your child's college or grad school admissions, prevent them from obtaining professional licenses, and bar them from certain careers.
If your child is heading off to college at Stockton, Delaware State, Wesley College, Princeton, or Rutgers, or if they're already in college, a criminal conviction for a fake ID charge can be devastating. On the plus side, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you both through this process and ensure your child has the best possible outcome for their case. On this page, we'll talk about some of the most urgent questions our clients and their parents ask about criminal charges for using a Fake ID in Cape May County, New Jersey.
Fake ID Charges in Cape May County
Many parents believe that getting charged with possessing or using a fake ID isn't a big deal. After all, all teens do it, right? Unfortunately, in New Jersey, your child can face serious consequences for buying, selling, using, or possessing a fake ID in New Jersey. In some cases, they can even face felony charges.
- Possessing a Fake ID in Cape May County
New Jersey law makes it illegal to possess a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or government-issued ID or document. Possessing a fake ID in New Jersey is typically a fourth-degree indictable offense, the New Jersey equivalent of a fourth-degree felony. A conviction for a fourth-degree felony is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(d).
- Using a Fake ID in Cape May County
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to “display, exhibit, or otherwise use a fake driver's license, birth certificate,” or another government-issued form of ID. Using or displaying fake identification is a third-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. This felony-level charge is punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(c).
Charges for using or possessing a fake ID under New Jersey Statute sections 2C:21-2.1(c) or (d) are typically third or fourth-degree indictable offenses. However, if your child uses, or attempts to use, a fake ID to buy alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or something people under 21 can't purchase or possess under New Jersey law, the state usually won't bring felony-level charges. However, if your child attempted any additional fraud with the fake ID, they may face an indictable offense or multiple fake ID charges, depending on the circumstances of your case.
- Selling a Fake ID in Cape May County
In New Jersey, it is illegal to knowingly “sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer” any fake identification. Violating this law in New Jersey is a serious offense, a second-degree indictable offense. This felony-level charge is punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(a).
- Possessing Materials to Make a Fake ID in Cape May County
Under New Jersey law, it is also illegal to knowingly make a fake ID or possess any device or materials used to make a fake ID, including a driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued ID. Making a fake ID in New Jersey is a second-degree indictable offense. This second-degree felony-level charge is punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(b).
- Tampering with an Official ID in Cape May County
New Jersey law also makes it illegal to attempt to alter or tamper with an authentic ID or record. Tampering or altering includes changing the information or name on the document, including the age or other personal information. For example, if your child tries to change the name or birthdate on a real New Jersey driver's license, the police may charge this as tampering with an official ID. A conviction for tampering with an ID is a third-degree indictable offense, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:28-7(b).
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Cape May County
There is good news if your child is under 18. Juvenile Fake ID charges in New Jersey are usually charged as disorderly persons offenses rather than indictable offenses or felonies. A “disorderly persons” offense is the New Jersey equivalent of a misdemeanor and is typically less serious than an indictable offense or felony. However, a disorderly persons offense is still punishable by up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.
Why Hire an Attorney?
The best way to avoid the complications and a criminal record that come with a conviction for a fake ID charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Cape May County police can slap your child with multiple fake ID charges and may arrest them for a felony-level charge in an attempt to get you and your child to plead guilty to at least one charge. Don't let any police officer or prosecutor railroad your child into pleading guilty until you consult with a skilled Cape May criminal defense attorney, like the team at the Lento Law Firm.
Expungement of Fake ID Charges in Cape May County
While avoiding a conviction is always the best way to avoid a criminal record, sometimes you and your child have to mitigate the consequences of that record after the fact. The good news is that New Jersey allows some people to expunge their arrest or criminal history, sealing it from the public view.
In New Jersey, an expungement is a process of obtaining a court order mandating that the state seal your child's records. It is the “extraction, sealing, impounding, or isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person's detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system.” The state will expunge records that include “complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, ‘rap sheets' and judicial docket records.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 (2019). However, the process of obtaining all the necessary paperwork for an expungement can be long and drawn out. A skilled defense attorney with experience in New Jersey expungements can make the process easier and more efficient.
1. Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses
If your child doesn't have any prior criminal history, they may be able to expunge their record with a traditional expungement. Using this option, they can expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly offenses, five years after they complete their sentence or supervision, including paying fines. If your child also has an indictable offense conviction, they may be able to expunge only three disorderly persons offenses. Under New Jersey's newer early pathway options, your child may only have to wait three years after completing their sentence to expunge these convictions. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's Clean Slate Law
Under New Jersey's “clean slate” law, passed by the legislature several years ago, your child may be able to have their entire arrest and conviction record expunged ten years after completing their sentences. This new law could allow them to expunge offenses that weren't eligible in the past because of an earlier expungement or multiple indictable offenses.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses
If your child has a juvenile charge for using or possessing a fake ID, you may be able to have their records expunged as well. Typically, you can expunge any criminal records before 18 unless it involves a serious crime that would be ineligible for expungement as an adult. Your child can expunge juvenile records three years after completing their juvenile sentence or supervision. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
Don't forget that an expungement does not destroy criminal or arrest records. Rather, an expungement simply seals these records from the public view. Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, will still be able to access your child's records if they apply for a law enforcement job or a security clearance. That's why it's important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest for a fake ID charge.
Hire an Experienced Cape May County Defense Attorney
If you have a high school or college student facing fake ID charges in Cape May County, don't wait to consult an attorney. Even if your child doesn't face felony-level charges, even a misdemeanor conviction can result in serious long-term consequences. A criminal record can affect your child's college or grad school admissions, career choices, professional licensing, and more. A skilled Cape May County criminal defense attorney can ensure the best possible outcome for their case and guide you both through this process. Attorney Joseph Lento and the skilled team at The Lento Law Firm have been helping people in New Jersey through the criminal justice system for years, and they can help you too. Give them a call today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule an appointment.