If your son or daughter faces a criminal charge for using a fake ID after attempting to buy alcohol or tobacco or get into a bar or club underage, you may be worried about the consequences. You're right to be concerned. Aside from the penalties that come with a criminal conviction, this can also affect your child's future career and educational opportunities, including college and graduate school admissions.
If you and your child have plans for them to head off to Rutgers, Princeton, Pace University, or Monmouth University, or if your child is already in college, an arrest and a criminal conviction for a fake ID charge could have long-term consequences. The good news is that your child is innocent until proven guilty, and an experienced Monmouth County criminal defense attorney can help your child. This article addresses some of the most common questions we get from our clients and their parents about fake ID criminal charges in New Jersey.
Fake ID Charges in Monmouth County
Many kids and their parents believe that an arrest for trying to use a fake ID isn't a big deal. It's something everyone tries, right? Unfortunately, there can be serious penalties for buying, selling, using, or possessing a fake ID in New Jersey. In some cases, fake ID charges can even result in a conviction for an indictable offense, the equivalent of a felony conviction in New Jersey.
- Possessing a Fake ID
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess a fake driver's license, a fake birth certificate, or any fake government-issued form of identification. Possessing a fake ID is a fourth-degree indictable offense, the lowest level of an indictable offense under New Jersey law. However, an indictable offense is a serious charge. In New Jersey, it is the equivalent of a felony in other states. The court may punish your child with 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
Under New Jersey law, it's illegal to “display, exhibit, or otherwise use” a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or government-issued form of identification. “Using or displaying” a fake ID is a third-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. This crime 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
New Jersey law also makes it illegal to “knowingly sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer” a fake ID. Violating this law is a second-degree indictable offense, 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 the Materials to Create a Fake ID
It is illegal under New Jersey law to “knowingly” make a fake ID or possess a device or materials to make a fake “driver's license, birth certificate,” or any government-issued form of identification. Making any fake identification is a second-degree indictable offense, 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 State ID
New Jersey law also makes it illegal to “attempt to tamper with or to alter an authentic document or record” to change the name or any information on the document. For example, if your child uses an official New Jersey driver's license and tries to change the name, age, or other personal information, this may be considered tampering with an official ID. A conviction for tampering with a state 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).
Under New Jersey law, fake ID charges will typically be third or fourth-degree indictable offenses. However, if your child used the fake ID to buy tobacco, marijuana, tobacco, or something they can't purchase or possess before age 21, the state generally won't charge them with an indictable offense. However, if they used the fake ID to commit additional fraud, they may face an indictable offense. Your child can also face multiple charges related to using or possessing the fake ID, depending on the circumstances of their case.
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Monmouth County
If your child gets caught using or possessing a fake ID in New Jersey under 18, it's typically considered a juvenile disorderly persons offense rather than an indictable offense. A “disorderly persons” offense is akin to a misdemeanor and is punishable with a maximum of six months of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. Your child may also face a suspension of their driver's license for six months. If they don't have a license yet, the suspension begins once the state issues your child a full license at 17.
Why Hire an Attorney for a Fake ID Charge?
While no court will require you to hire an attorney, having an experienced Monmouth County criminal defense attorney by your child's side is the best way to avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge. Don't forget that the police can often charge a fake ID case as either an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense and pile on multiple charges.
If your child is already in college, they may also face disciplinary action from their school, particularly if the offense happened on campus or at a campus-sanctioned event. Don't let the prosecution strong arm you or your child into pleading guilty. And you shouldn't let a fake ID offense derail your child's education. Don't ever agree to a plea without discussing your case with a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Expungement of Fake ID Charges in Monmouth County
While avoiding a criminal conviction is the best way to avoid a criminal record, if convicted, you must deal with the fallout of a criminal conviction afterward. In New Jersey, you and your child do have some options to seal a criminal record from view. Through expungement, you can obtain a court order that orders the state of New Jersey to remove criminal or arrest records from the public's view.
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.” The state of New Jersey will expunge records such as “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, getting records expunged can be a long, paperwork-heavy process. In many cases, an experienced expungement attorney can make the process faster and easier for you.
1. Expunging Misdemeanors aka Disorderly Persons Offenses
For the typical New Jersey expungement, you can expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly offenses, five years after you complete your sentence and pay your fines, as long as you don't have a prior criminal history. If you also have a past conviction for an indictable offense or felony, you can expunge up to three disorderly persons offenses. New Jersey also has some newer “early pathway” options that may allow you to wait only three years to expunge your convictions. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's Clean Slate Law
Several years ago, the New Jersey legislature passed a new “clean slate” law for expungements. Under the new law, your child may be able to expunge their whole arrest and conviction record ten years after completing their sentence. This new statute could allow your child to expunge a record even if they were ineligible for an expungement in the past because of a prior expungement or multiple indictable offenses.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses
If your child has a fake ID conviction that happened before they turned 18, they can have their juvenile records expunged. Most juvenile records are eligible for expungement unless they are serious crimes, like rape or murder, that would be ineligible for expungement if committed by an adult. Your child must wait three years after completing their juvenile sentence or supervision before becoming eligible for expungement. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
In New Jersey, an expungement can remove your child's criminal record from public view, but the records aren't destroyed. Law enforcement agencies, including the New Jersey State Police and the FBI, will still have access to these records if your child applies for a job in law enforcement in the future. That's why ensuring your child has an excellent defense from the beginning is the best way to ensure all career options remain open for them.
Hire an Experienced Monmouth County Criminal Defense Attorney
If your Freehold Regional Township, Shrewsbury Borough, or Keansburg Borough high school student faces fake ID charges in Monmouth County, you need to take the matter seriously. Even for misdemeanor or disorderly persons offenses, your child may face serious long-term consequences. A criminal conviction can affect your child's educational prospects, future career, professional licensing, student loans, and more. An experienced Monmouth County criminal defense attorney can ensure the best possible resolution and protect your student's rights every step of the way. Attorney Joseph Lento and the team at The Lento Law Firm have helped students and their parents through the criminal justice system for years. They can help you too. Call them today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule a consultation.