Using a fake I.D. may seem like a fairly innocent and victimless crime. For the most part, it arguably may be. That doesn't mean, however, that charges stemming from the use of a fake I.D. won't be difficult to defend or won't have disproportionate consequences if not handled carefully if charged. In some instances, fake I.D. crimes are more serious than just using the fake I.D. to buy beer. If your child is convicted, they could end up suffering the consequences of a criminal record that will follow them for years to come.
If you or your child's been charged with an offense stemming from a fake I.D. in New Jersey, you should reach out to an experienced New Jersey defense attorney who understands the weight of the punishment associated with the crime.
New Jersey Fake ID's: Frequently Asked Questions
- What Types of Criminal Charges for Fake I.D.s are There in New Jersey?
- What is the New Jersey Fake ID Law?
- When Are Fake ID Crimes Charged as Indictable Offenses in New Jersey?
- When Are Fake ID Crimes Charged as Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey?
- Will I Lose My Driver's License After a Fake ID Conviction?
- What if I Changed Someone Else's New Jersey ID So I Could Use it?
- Who is Considered a Juvenile in New Jersey?
- What are the Penalties for Juveniles Selling Fake I.D.s in New Jersey?
- What are the Penalties for Juveniles Making Fake I.D.s in New Jersey?
- What are the Penalties for Juveniles Using Fake I.D.s in New Jersey to buy Alcohol or Tobacco?
- What is The Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey?
- Will My Child Get Juvenile Detention for Using a Fake ID in New Jersey?
- Who Can Access Juvenile Criminal Records?
- What Are the Consequences of a Juvenile Criminal Record in New Jersey?
- Can A Juvenile Record be Expunged in New Jersey?
- How Do You Defend Against a Fake ID Charge in New Jersey?
What Types of Criminal Charges for Fake I.D.s are There in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there are three tiers of criminal offense. From most serious to least serious, they are:
- Indictable offenses
- Disorderly persons offenses
- Municipal ordinance violations
Use of a Fake ID can result in second, third degree or fourth-degree convictions, which fall under the category of an indictable offense. These offenses can be compared to felonies in other states and are more difficult to expunge from your record than lesser offenses. In addition to losing your driver's license for a Fake ID crime, Fake ID penalties for crimes charged as indictable offenses include:
- Fourth Degree—up to $10,000 fine and up to 18 years in prison
- Third Degree—up to $15,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison
- Second Degree—up to $150,000 fine and 5-10 years in prison
A disorderly persons offense is a like misdemeanor in other jurisdictions. While less severe, a disorderly persons offense can still carry significant penalties and include:
- Up to $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison in addition to the loss of your driver's license
What is the New Jersey Fake ID Law?
Section 2C:21-2.1 of the New Jersey statutes is invoked when a person knowingly sells, possesses, or uses a fake I.D. The charges range from extremely serious to less serious depending on what the accused intended to do with the fake I.D.
When Are Fake I.D. Crimes Charged as Indictable Offenses in New Jersey?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(a), a second-degree indictable offense can be charged when an individual knowingly:
“Sells, offers or exposes for sale, or otherwise transfers, or possesses with the intent to sell, offer or expose for sale, or otherwise transfer, a document, printed form or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information…”
Similarly, under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(b), the offense will be charged as a second-degree indictable offense when an individual knowingly:
“Makes, or possesses devices or materials to make, a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information…”
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c), a third-degree indictable offense can be charged when an individual knowingly:
“Exhibits, displays or utters a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information…”
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d), a fourth-degree indictable offense can be charged when an individual knowingly:
“Possesses a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver's license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person's identity or age or any other personal identifying information ...”
When Are Fake ID Crimes Charged as Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey?
Fortunately, New Jersey lawmakers understand that kids will make bad decisions, and those decisions often involve the use of a Fake ID to gain access to alcohol or tobacco.
Under both N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c) and Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d), the law provides that when the person using the Fake ID was doing so only to purchase age-restricted products, and no one was injured or defrauded in the process, then the offense:
“Shall not constitute an offense under this subsection if the actor received only that benefit or service and did not perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate any additional injury or fraud on another.”
Basically, when a juvenile gets caught using or attempting to use a fake I.D. to buy beer, for example, they will be most likely be charged with a disorderly persons offense.
Will I Lose My Driver's License After a Fake ID Conviction?
Regardless of whether or not the fake I.D. charge is levied as an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense, the defendant will temporarily lose their driver's license in New Jersey.
N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(e) provides:
“Every person convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent or penalized for a violation of any offense defined in this section shall forthwith forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than six months or more than two years…”
If illicit drugs or paraphernalia, or intoxicated driving are additional charges in conjunction with the use of a fake I.D., “a court, in its discretion, may suspend, revoke or postpone the driving privileges of a person admitted to supervisory treatment without a plea of guilty or finding of guilt.”
What if I Changed Someone Else's New Jersey ID So I Could Use it?
Note that using a fake I.D. is different from tampering with an existing I.D., which is charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:28-7. Tampering with public records can be charged as a disorderly persons offense, and even if a kid thinks that altering their big brother or sister's I.D. to buy alcohol or tobacco is no big deal, the state thinks otherwise. The act of tampering is all that's required to invoke the criminal penalty. If the juvenile both tampers with the I.D. and then uses it, they could be charged on multiple fronts.
Who is Considered a Juvenile in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a juvenile is an individual under the age of 18.
What are the Penalties for Juveniles Selling Fake I.D.s in New Jersey?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(a), a kid under the age of 18 may be charged with a second-degree indictable offense, aka a felony, if they try to sell a fake I.D.
What are the Penalties for Juveniles Making Fake I.D.s in New Jersey?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(b), a kid under the age of 18 may be charged with a second-degree indictable offense, if they try to make a fake I.D.
What are the Penalties for Juveniles Using Fake I.D.s in New Jersey to buy Alcohol or Tobacco?
The penalties associated with a juvenile's use of a fake I.D. to procure alcohol or tobacco will usually result in a disorderly persons offense charge. This means they'll often be penalized with no more than a $1000 fine and a temporary suspension of their driver's license. If the minor is not yet 17, the term limitation placed on their driver's license will not begin until they reach the age of 17.
If, however, during the commission of the fake I.D. crime, another person was injured or defrauded, the charges will be elevated, and the penalties will be much more severe.
What is The Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey?
In 1995, the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (J.C.C.) was established. The purpose of the J.C.C. was to develop a centralized agency to handle policy surrounding kids in the juvenile justice system. The primary duties that fall under the J.C.C. are:
- Rehabilitative programs
When a minor is accused of juvenile delinquency, the state follows a fairly specific process. They may be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer, a non-law enforcement complainant, or a family crisis intervention unit. When the crime involves a fake I.D., generally, the law enforcement officer will be the custody authority involved.
After detainment, the juvenile may be moved through family court intake. A hearing must be held within 24 hours when the juvenile is detained. During this hearing, the court will decide if there is probable cause to continue with the process to determine delinquency.
At this point, the court may decide to release the juvenile, place them in detention, place them in a diversion program, or involve family crisis planning. Depending on the juvenile's pre-existing delinquency history and the seriousness of the fake I.D. crime, the family court may adjudicate the current charge and ultimately find in favor of:
- A deferred sentence
- 60 days in County detention
- Incarceration at a J.C.C. facility
The family court may also decide that any combination of the following are appropriate:
- Community service
- Fines and restitution
- Substance abuse treatment
- Behavioral remediation programs
- Transitional programs
The state recognizes that kids make mistakes and that they deserve second chances. For kids who've made one or two mistakes, the courts often employ diversion programs. Using a fake I.D. to try and buy alcohol is not an egregious crime, and if it doesn't indicate a more serious habit of troublemaking, the committees composed of court-appointed local residents that review the juvenile cases will consider such.
Will My Child Get Juvenile Detention for Using a Fake ID in New Jersey?
If the fake I.D. crime is more serious than a simple attempt to buy cigarettes before the age of 18, then the juvenile justice system may implement harsher punishments. Under N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-34, a juvenile may be placed in detention only under specific circumstances. Such circumstances include:
- An unlikelihood that the juvenile will appear at his or her hearing
- Increased risk of safety to persons or property in the community
- If no guardian can be found to place the juvenile with
In most cases, a juvenile who commits a fake I.D. crime won't be placed in juvenile detention. Still, minors have a right to legal representation under N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-39, and if your child is accused of violating the fake I.D. law, you should procure a New Jersey defense attorney right away to ensure that their rights are protected. When a kid makes a mistake that violates the criminal laws of the state, they risk having that mistake impact their future for years to come.
Who Can Access Juvenile Criminal Records?
The consequences of a juvenile record in the state of New Jersey can be severe. Even when the crime committed was a one-off, poorly made decision to try and buy a six-pack of beer from the local gas station with a fake I.D.
Juvenile criminal records are maintained in family court rather than in criminal court. Importantly, juvenile records are not public records. They may be accessible though, if a party or parties seeks to bring a civil lawsuit relating to the juvenile delinquency. Additionally, schools may request to review the juvenile delinquency file in order to ascertain the nature of the offense committed. This information is supposed to be kept confidential, though slip-ups happen.
Importantly, in certain instances, the record may be made public. If the crime committed would have been charged in the first, second, or third degree if committed by someone over the age of 18, then the record may be made public. If, for instance, a juvenile gets caught selling fake I.D.s, which constitutes a second-degree indictable offense, then that conviction could become public record.
What Are the Consequences of a Juvenile Criminal Record in New Jersey?
When a criminal record is available to the public, it will show up in background checks. This can affect a young person's ability to get jobs, apply for college or graduate school, rent an apartment, and seek out numerous other opportunities.
Almost every adult can think back to their youth and name at least an action or two that they now know was a bad idea. When a juvenile gets caught selling or making a fake I.D., they don't always realize how severe the consequences can be or how long they will have to carry the weight of their actions.
Can A Juvenile Record be Expunged in New Jersey?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1, the record of your child's juvenile acts of delinquency is eligible for expungement after a period of 5 years from the date they are released from a detention facility or complete probation. Records may only be expunged if, during this 5-year period, no other criminal convictions against them have occurred.
How Do You Defend Against a Fake ID Charge in New Jersey?
The defense of a fake I.D. charge is critical in maintaining your child's good standing in the community. Sometimes, a kid who's just goofing around and testing the waters ends up making a mistake. After the fact, they've learned their lesson, and they deserve a fierce defense.
An experienced New Jersey defense attorney will understand how to defend your child when they are facing the threat of criminal prosecution for violating New Jersey fake I.D. laws. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will tirelessly work to ensure the juvenile justice system understands the value of your child's future, and he'll help you and your family find the best legal route for moving forward. To learn how Mr. Lento and his team can help you today, contact us online or call 888.535.3686.