If your child is facing criminal charges for trying to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or to get into a club, it can be stressful. You're undoubtedly worried about possible criminal penalties, what will happen next, and whether this will affect your child long-term. Your concerns are legitimate. In many cases, a criminal record can affect your child's college admissions, financial aid, graduate school admissions, and even future career choice.
If your child is in high school at Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, or Franklin high school and soon heading off to college at Rutgers-New Brunswick, Drew University, NYU, or far from new Jersey, you should be concerned about a possible criminal conviction for a fake ID. Even if your child is already in college, a criminal charge could have long-term consequences. But you don't have to go through this alone. An experienced Somerset County criminal defense attorney can help. On this page, we'll discuss some of the most urgent questions our clients and parents ask us about criminal charges for using a Fake ID in New Jersey.
Fake ID Charges in Somerset County
In many cases, people believe that getting caught using a fake ID won't be a big deal or “kids will just get a slap on the wrist.” “Everyone does it, right?” Unfortunately, this isn't the case. In New Jersey, there can be serious consequences for buying, selling, using, or even possessing a fake ID. This crime can result in a felony conviction under some circumstances.
1. Selling or Offering a Fake ID
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to knowingly sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer a fake ID. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(a) . Violating this law is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
2. Possessing Materials to Make a Fake ID
Under New Jersey law, it's illegal to knowingly make a fake ID or be in possession of a device or materials to make a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or any other government-issued form of identification. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(b). In New Jersey, making a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense, equivalent to a second-degree felony in other states. This crime is punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
3. Using Fake Identification
New Jersey law makes it illegal to display, exhibit, or otherwise use a fake driver's license, birth certificate, or other government-issued forms of identification. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(c). “Using or displaying” a fake ID is a third-degree felony in New Jersey. This crime is punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
4. Possessing a Fake ID
Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess a fake driver's license, a fake birth certificate, or any other fake government-issued form of ID. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(d). Possessing fake identification is a fourth-degree felony in New Jersey. While this is the least serious felony charge under New Jersey law, it is still punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
5. Tampering with an Official ID
New Jersey law also makes it illegal to attempt 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 you change the name, age, or other personal information on a real New Jersey driver's license, the police could charge this as tampering with an official ID. A conviction for tampering with an official ID is a third-degree felony, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
Fake ID charges in New Jersey are often third or fourth-degree felony or indictable offense charges. Still, if your child under 21 uses a fake ID to attempt to buy tobacco, alcohol, or cannabis, the state typically won't bring an indictable offense charge against them. However, if they attempted to commit additional fraud with the fake ID, they may face additional, more serious charges.
Juvenile Fake Identification Charges in Somerset County
Fortunately for New Jersey high school and college kids, juvenile fake ID charges are usually charged as a disorderly persons offense rather than as felonies. A “disorderly persons” offense is equivalent to a misdemeanor in other states, but these charges can still carry serious consequences in New Jersey. The punishment for a “disorderly persons” offense is typically limited to a maximum of six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Do I Need an Attorney?
To avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge in Somerset County, your best option is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Often, the police can choose whether to charge a fake ID case as an indictable offense or a felony. The police may also choose to pile on charges, whether you're an adult or a juvenile, to try to make you and your child plead guilty to something. Do not let a prosecutor or the police in Somerset County railroad you into pleading guilty. Hire a skilled criminal defense attorney like the team at The Lento Law Firm.
Expunging Fake ID Charges in Somerset County
Unfortunately, you can't always avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge, and you must deal with the consequences after serving your sentence. In New Jersey, the law offers a few options to clear your criminal record or seal it from public view. When you expunge a record, you receive a court order from a judge that orders the state and its agencies to remove your arrest or criminal records from public view.
New Jersey law defines expungement as 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 expungement process can be long, paperwork intensive, and complicated. In many cases, an experienced expungement attorney can guide you through the process much more efficiently, so you can get on with your life as quickly as possible.
1. Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses
If you don't have any additional criminal history, you can expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, including petty disorderly persons offenses, in a traditional expungement. You must wait five years after completing your sentence or supervision, including paying your court-imposed fines and penalties. If you also have an indictable offense conviction, which is the equivalent of a felony in other states, you can only expunge three disorderly persons offenses under a traditional expungement pathway. New Jersey law also includes newer early pathway options allowing you to wait only three years after completing your sentence before expunging convictions. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019).
2. New Jersey's Clean Slate Law
New Jersey now has a new “clean slate' expungement law, passed by the legislature several years ago. Under the clean slate law, you or your child may be eligible to have your whole arrest and conviction record expunged ten years after completing your sentence and paying your fines. This new option may allow expungement for records even if you've already expunged a conviction or had multiple indictable offenses, making you ineligible for expungement in the past.
3. Expunging Juvenile Offenses
If your child has a juvenile conviction for using or possessing a faked ID while under 18, you can have their juvenile record expunged. Under New Jersey law, most juvenile records are eligible for expungement. The only juvenile crimes you can't expunge are serious crimes not eligible for expungement if committed by an adult, like sexual assault or murder. Your child must wait three years after completing their juvenile sentence or supervision before the expungement. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
In New Jersey, an expungement will not destroy arrest or conviction records. However, the court order will remove your child's criminal records from public view. State and federal law enforcement agencies will remove your convictions from their databases. However, they will still be able to access the records if your child applies for a security clearance, the military, or certain law enforcement jobs. As a result, your best option should be avoiding a conviction with a strong defense.
Hire an Experienced Somerset County Defense Attorney
If you have a college student at Middlesex College, Pillar College, Union County College, or a high school student in Somerset County facing fake ID charges, it can be a serious matter. A conviction, even for a disorderly persons offense, can have long-term consequences on your child's future educational and career prospects.
Attorney Joseph Lento and the team at The Lento Law Firm can help protect your child's rights. They have helped accused people in New Jersey for years, and they can guide you through the criminal justice system too. Call them today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.