If your child has a charge for using a fake ID in New Jersey, you're no doubt worried about the possible consequences. Whether they were using a fake ID to try to buy alcohol or get into a bar, there may be criminal penalties and future repercussions if a court finds them guilty. A criminal record can affect your child's college or graduate admissions and future career choices.
Whether you have a high schooler planning to head off to Rutgers, the College of New Jersey, Kean University, or Princeton, or a child who is already in college, a conviction for a fake ID charge in Middlesex County can have long-lasting consequences. But there is good news. With an experienced criminal defense attorney by their side, you have a better chance of a good outcome. This article will discuss some of the top questions we've received from our clients and their parents about fake ID charges in New Jersey.
Fake ID Charges in Middlesex County
While many parents, and their kids, think that using a fake ID isn't a big deal, a criminal charge can be serious. Under New Jersey law, there can be serious consequences for possessing, using, selling, or buying a fake ID. In some cases, it can result in a conviction for an indictable offense, which is the New Jersey equivalent of a felony conviction.
- Possessing a Fake ID in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess a fake birth certificate, driver's license, or any other fake government-issued ID. Possessing a fake ID is a fourth-degree indictable offense, the equivalent of a felony charge. While a fourth-degree indictable offense is the least serious felony charge in New Jersey, it's still a serious charge. A fourth-degree indictable offense is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(d).
- Using a Fake ID in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, it is also illegal to “display, exhibit, or otherwise use” a fake birth certificate, driver's license, or any government-issued ID. Using or displaying a fake ID is a third-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. A third-degree indictable offense 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).
- Selling a Fake ID in New Jersey
New Jersey law makes it illegal to “knowingly sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer” any fake identification. Violating this law is a second-degree indictable offense in New Jersey, 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
Under New Jersey law, it's illegal to make a fake ID knowingly or possess a device or materials that can be used to make a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or government-issued ID. Making a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense in New Jersey and 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 New Jersey ID
Under New Jersey law, it is also illegal to alter or try to alter an authentic government-issued ID or record to change the name or information on the document. If your child tries to change the name, age, or other personal information on a real New Jersey driver's license, this can be considered tampering with an official ID. A conviction tampering with an official 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).
- Using a Fake ID to Buy Alcohol, Tobacco, or Cannabis
Possessing or using a fake ID in New Jersey is typically a third or fourth-degree indictable offense. However, if your child is under 21 and tried to use the fake ID to buy alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis, the police usually won't charge them with an indictable offense. But if your child used the ID for additional fraud, they could still face multiple fake ID charges, including indictable offenses or felony charges.
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Middlesex County
If your child uses or possesses a fake ID as a juvenile under 18, the police will typically charge them with a “disorderly persons” offense. A disorderly persons offense is New Jersey's version of a misdemeanor. A juvenile fake ID charge conviction is punishable by up to six months of jail time and $1,000 in fines.
Why Hire an Attorney for a Fake ID Charge?
If you want to avoid a criminal record and a conviction for a fake ID charge in Middlesex for your child, your best option is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. In many cases, the police can charge a fake ID case as either an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense. They can also pile on multiple charges to get your child to plead guilty to at least one charge. Don't let this happen. It's essential that you consult a skilled Middlesex County criminal defense attorney, like the team at the Lento Law Firm, as soon as possible.
Expungement of Fake ID Charges in Middlesex County
Sometimes you can't always avoid a criminal conviction for your child. In those cases, you'll have to deal with the consequences of a criminal record later. Fortunately, under New Jersey law, your child may be able to use expungement to seal their criminal record from public view after a waiting period of three to five years. Expungement is a legal process, hopefully resulting in a court order to remove arrest or criminal records from the public view. Expungement can help open educational and career opportunities for your child.
A New Jersey expungement allows for 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). The expungement process can be long, tedious, and complicated. But an experienced New Jersey expungement attorney can make the process easier and more efficient.
1. Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses
In a normal New Jersey expungement, you may be able to expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly offenses, after a five-year waiting period. After completing your sentence or supervision, the waiting period will commence, including paying any fines. However, if you also have a conviction for an indictable offense or felony, you may expunge only three disorderly persons offenses. New Jersey also has an early pathway expungement with a three-year waiting period. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's New Clean Slate Law
The New Jersey legislature recently passed a new “clean slate” expungement law. Under the new law, your child may be able to expunge their entire arrest and criminal record ten years after completing their sentence. The clean slate law may also allow them to expunge offenses that weren't eligible for expungement in the past because of a prior expungement or multiple indictable offenses.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses in New Jersey
If your child was convicted of a fake ID charge as a juvenile, they might be able to have it expunged as well. Under New Jersey law, you can typically expunge any juvenile crime, except for serious crimes that wouldn't be eligible for expungement as an adult. The waiting period to expunge juvenile records is three years after completing the sentence or supervision. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
Don't forget that while expungement can seal your child's records from the public view, they will still exist. Law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the New Jersey State Police can still access the records if they apply for a security clearance or a job in law enforcement. That's why avoiding a conviction for a fake ID charge should be your priority.
Hire an Experienced Middlesex County Defense Attorney
If you have a high school or college student facing fake ID charges in Middlesex County, you need to take the charges seriously. Even disorderly persons offenses or misdemeanors can have long-term for your child. A criminal record can affect their college and graduate school prospects and even their future career. A skilled criminal New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help ensure the best possible outcome for their case and protect their rights every step of the process. Attorney Joseph Lento and his team at The Lento Law Firm have been helping people in New Jersey through criminal charges for years, and they can help you too. Call them today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.