If your high school or college-age child is arrested trying to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or get into a bar, you're no doubt worried about what may happen in the criminal justice process. You're undoubtedly also worried about whether an arrest or a conviction will affect your child's long-term educational and career prospects. And you're right to be worried – a criminal record can have long-term consequences for your child.
If your child is in high school in the Hunterdon Central Regional, Vorhees Regional, or North Brunswick Township District and heading off to college soon, a criminal conviction can limit their college admissions and financial aid. If your child is already in college, a conviction can affect their graduate school admissions, professional licensing, and future career. But it's important to remember that your child is innocent until proven guilty, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect their rights every step of the way. In this article, we'll address some of the most pressing questions our clients and their parents have about fake ID charges, criminal records, and how to mitigate the possible consequences.
Fake ID Charges in Hunterdon County
Many of us think that an arrest for using a fake ID is “no big deal.” After all, many kids do this, and the police will just give them a “slap on the wrist,” right? Unfortunately, under New Jersey law, many fake ID charges, including possession of a fake ID, are indictable offenses, equivalent to felony-level charges in other states.
1. Possessing a Fake ID in Hunterdon County
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess a fake ID, including a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or other fake government-issued ID. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(d). This charge is a fourth-degree indictable offense. A fourth-degree indictable offense is the lowest level of an indictable offense, but it is still the equivalent of a felony charge under New Jersey law. A fourth-degree indictable offense is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
2. Using Fake Identification in Hunterdon County
Under New Jersey law, it is also illegal to display, exhibit, or otherwise use any fake form of government-issued ID, including a driver's license or birth certificate. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(c). Using a fake ID is a third-degree indictable offense. This felony-level offense is punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
While charges for possessing or using a fake ID in New Jersey are typically indictable offenses, if your child is arrested with a fake ID after trying to use it to buy alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, or something else they can't legally buy until they are 21, the police usually won't charge them with an indictable offense. Rather, they'll face a disorderly persons offense, the equivalent of a misdemeanor, unless they used the fake ID to engage in another fraud. If that is the case, they may face a felony-level charge or multiple fake ID charges.
3. Selling or Offering a Fake ID in Hunterdon County
New Jersey law makes it illegal to knowingly “sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer” any fake identification. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(a). Selling a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense, a felony-level charge, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
4. Possessing Materials to Make a Fake ID in Hunterdon County
Under New Jersey law, it is also illegal to “knowingly” make a fake ID or possess any device or materials to make a fake ID, including a driver's license, birth certificate, or any government-issued form of ID. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(b). Creating a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense, equivalent to a second-degree felony. Making a fake ID is a serious crime in New Jersey, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
5. Tampering with an Official ID in Hunterdon County
In New Jersey, it is also illegal to try to tamper with or to “alter an authentic document or record to change the information or name on the document.” See N.J.S.A. § 2C:28-7(b). For example, if your child tries to change the age, name, or other information on a real New Jersey driver's license, they could be charged with tampering with an official ID. Tampering with an official ID is a third-degree indictable offense, a felony-level charge punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
Juvenile Fake Identification Charges in Hunterdon Count
Typically, the police will only bring a disorderly persons offense, the equivalent of a misdemeanor, against kids under 18 for attempting to use a fake ID or possessing a fake ID. However, a disorderly persons offense can still carry serious consequences in New Jersey, including up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Do I Need an Attorney for Fake ID Charges?
The best possible way for your child to avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge in Hunterdon County is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The police may choose to charge your child with a felony-level charge or multiple fake ID charges to get them to plead guilty to at least one charge. Don't allow your child to be railroaded by the police or a prosecutor in Hunterdon County. Retain a skilled criminal defense attorney, such as the experienced team at The Lento Law Firm, to protect their rights.
Expunging Fake ID Charges in Hunterdon County
Even if you work hard to help your child avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge, sometimes you must deal with the consequences of a criminal record after the fact. Fortunately, New Jersey law offers some options to help your child clean up their criminal record, opening more doors for them in the future. If your child qualifies for an expungement, they may obtain a court order that seals their arrest and criminal records from public view.
Under New Jersey law, an expungement 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.” Records the state of New Jersey may expunge 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). Obtaining an expungement can still be a long, paperwork-intensive process. But a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with expungement experience can make the process faster and more efficient for your child.
1. Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses in Hunterdon County
If your child doesn't have an additional criminal history, they can typically expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly persons offenses, using the traditional New Jersey expungement route. They will need to wait five years after completing their sentence or supervision and paying their fines. If your child also has an indictable offense conviction, they can only expunge three disorderly persons offenses using the traditional expungement pathway. However, New Jersey law now includes an early pathway expungement option that allows them to only wait three years after completing their sentence. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's New Clean Slate Law
In recent years, the New Jersey legislature passed a “clean slate” law that allows some people to expunge their entire criminal and arrest record in one sweep ten years after completing their sentence and paying their fines. Your child may be able to expunge records that didn't previously qualify because of multiple indictable offenses or a past expungement.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses in Hunterdon County
If your child has a juvenile record because of a conviction for a fake ID charge while they were under 18, they may be able to expunge these records as well. New Jersey law allows expungement of most juvenile convictions except for serious crimes that wouldn't be eligible for expungement as an adult, such as murder or rape. Your child may be eligible for juvenile record expungement three years after completing their sentence or supervision. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
It's important to understand that an expungement in New Jersey will not destroy your child's arrest or criminal records. The court order will seal them from public view, but the records will still exist. Law enforcement agencies like the New Jersey State Police and the FBI will still have access to these records if your child applies for certain law enforcement jobs. That's why the best option if your child faces a fake ID charge is a strong offense, allowing a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend your child zealously.
Hire an Experienced Hunterdon County Defense Attorney
If you have a college student at Rutgers, Montclair State University, Rowan University, Keane University, or a high school student in Hunterdon County facing fake ID charges, it's important to take the matter seriously. Even a misdemeanor conviction, a disorderly persons offense, can affect your child's long-term educational and career prospects.
At The Lento Law Firm, attorney Joseph Lento and his team can help guide you and your child through the Hunterdon County criminal justice system. They've been protecting the rights of New Jersey defendants for years, and they can help you too. Give them a call today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.