Fake ID Defense Attorney in Mercer County, New Jersey
If you or your child is facing a criminal charge after using a fake ID to buy alcohol or get into a bar, you're undoubtedly worried about what may happen. Aside from the worry about possible criminal penalties, you're probably also concerned about how this might affect your child's future, including college and graduate school admissions.
If your child plans to head off to Princeton, Thomas Edison State, The College of New Jersey, or Rider University, or if they're already in college, a criminal conviction for a fake ID could have long-term consequences. The good news is that an experienced Mercer County defense attorney can help. On this page, we'll address some of the most pressing questions our clients and their parents have about criminal charges for using a Fake ID in New Jersey.
Fake ID Charges in Mercer County
Many people are under the impression that using a fake ID is “no big deal,” a rite of teenage passage, or something everyone does. But unfortunately, there can be serious consequences for buying, selling, using, or even possessing a fake ID in New Jersey, resulting in felony convictions.
- Selling a Fake ID
Under New Jersey Statutes § 2C:21-2.1(a), it is illegal to knowingly sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer any fake ID. A violation of the law is a second-degree felony, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine under New Jersey law.
- Possessing Materials to Make a Fake ID
Under New Jersey Statutes § 2C:21-2.1(b), it's illegal to knowingly make a fake ID or to be in possession of a device or materials to make a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or any other governmentally-issued forms of identification. Making a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. An indictable offense in New Jersey is equivalent to a felony in other states.
- Using a Fake ID
Under New Jersey Statutes § 2C:21-2.1(c), it is illegal to display, exhibit, or otherwise use a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or other governmentally-issued forms of identification. Using or displaying a fake ID is a third-degree felony in New Jersey, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
- Possessing a Fake ID
Under New Jersey Statutes § 2C:21-2.1(d), it is illegal to possess a fake driver's license, a fake birth certificate, or any other fake governmentally-issued form of identification. Possessing a fake ID is a fourth-degree felony, the least serious felony charge under New Jersey law. A fourth-degree felony is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Tampering with an Official ID
Under New Jersey Statutes § 2C:28-7(b), it is illegal to attempt to tamper with or to alter an authentic document or record to change the information or name on the document. For example, if someone uses a real New Jersey driver's license and changes the name, age, or other personal information, the police could charge this as tampering with an official ID. A conviction for this offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
While Fake ID charges under New Jersey Code sections 2C:21-2.1(c) or (d) are typically third or fourth-degree felony charges, if you used the fake ID to buy alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or anything else, people under 21 can't purchase or possess, the state won't bring felony charges if you didn't attempt or commit any additional fraud with the fake ID. You can also face multiple Fake ID charges under New Jersey law, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Mercer County
Juvenile Fake ID charges in New Jersey are typically considered disorderly persons offenses rather than felonies. A “disorderly persons” offense is an offense punishable by up to six months of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. It is equivalent to a misdemeanor in many other states. In the New Jersey juvenile system, there are some alternatives to “jail” or juvenile detention, including:
Releasing a minor to parents with the assurance that they'll return for hearings
· Placing the minor with a custodial agency
· Releasing the minor to parents with monitoring such as home detention or “house arrest”
· Other alternatives the court finds reasonable
Many juvenile courts develop their own procedural rules. Still, under New Jersey law, a juvenile is entitled to have an attorney if the charge they face can result in incarceration or detention. While you don't have to have an attorney for your child, a lawyer can offer your child the best chance of avoiding a criminal record.
Why Hire an Attorney?
The best way to avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge in Mercer County as either an adult or a juvenile is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. It's important to remember that the police can charge a fake ID offense as an indictable offense or felony in many cases. Or they can pile on charges in an attempt to make you and your child plead guilty to at least one charge. Don't let the prosecution railroad you or your child. Consult a skilled criminal defense attorney like the lawyers at the Lento Law Firm as soon as possible after the arrest.
Expungement of Fake ID Charges in Mercer County
While the best way to avoid a criminal history is to avoid a conviction, sometimes you must deal with the consequences of a sentence after the fact. Fortunately, the state of New Jersey offers some options to clear a criminal record or seal it from public view. Expungement is a legal process that results in a court order to remove records of an arrest or criminal charges from the public view, opening up many options for education and careers.
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 will 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). In many cases, the expungement process can be tedious and complicated. That's why hiring an attorney to guide you can make the process more efficient and easier to navigate.
1. Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses
For a traditional expungement, if you don't have any prior criminal history, you can expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly offenses, five years after completing your sentence or supervision, including paying fines. If you have also had a conviction for an indictable offense, the equivalent of a felony, you may only have three disorderly persons offenses. Under newer early pathway options, you may only have to wait three years to be eligible to expunge these convictions. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's Clean Slate Law
New Jersey's legislature passed a new expungement “clean slate” law several years ago. Under this statute, you or your child may be able to have your entire arrest and conviction record expunged ten years after completing your sentence. This new provision could allow you to expunge offenses even if you weren't eligible in the past because you'd already expunged a conviction or had multiple indictable offenses.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses
If you or your child have convictions for fake ID charges while under 18, you can have your juvenile records expunged. Typically, you can expunge all juvenile records except those serious crimes that would be ineligible for expungement if you were an adult at the time of conviction. The waiting period for expungement is three years after completing your juvenile sentence or supervision. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
It's important to note that an expungement will remove criminal records from public view. However, the records will still exist. Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, will remove your conviction from their databases. However, they can still access them if your child applies for a law enforcement job or a security clearance in the future. That's why avoiding a conviction should be your first line of defense.
Hire an Experienced Mercer County Defense Attorney
If you have a high school student in Trenton, Hamilton Township, or West-Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, or a college student facing fake ID charges in Mercer County, it's important to take the matter seriously. Even if your child isn't facing felony charges, there can be serious long-term consequences, and it can affect your child's college or grad school admissions, future career choice, professional licensing, and more.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your child's rights and ensure the best possible resolution for their case. Attorney Joseph Lento and the team at The Lento Law Firm have helped people in New Jersey through criminal charges 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.