Using a fake ID was almost a rite of passage for many Americans. But underage drinking is a serious problem and in New Jersey, using a fake ID is a serious crime. If your child is arrested on fake ID charges in Warren County, you may think it's a minor thing that you can quickly clear up on your own. But fake ID charges can be felony-level charges in New Jersey. And even if your child is convicted of a misdemeanor-level offense, that record will follow them, affecting future educational and career opportunities.
If your son or daughter plans to head to college at Rutgers, Princeton, New Jersey City University, Warren Community College, join the military, or start vocational training or a new career, a fake ID conviction could affect their future. Fortunately, an experienced Warren County criminal defense attorney can help protect your child's rights.
Possible Fake ID Charges in Warren County, New Jersey
There can be serious consequences, including jail time, for fake ID convictions in New Jersey. Buying, selling, using, or even possessing a fake ID in New Jersey, can result in a felony-level conviction.
- Selling a Fake ID In New Jersey, it is illegal to knowingly “sell, offer, transfer, or possess with the intent to sell or offer” a fake ID. Selling a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense in New Jersey, equivalent to a felony. Selling a fake ID can result in five to ten years in prison and a $15,000 fine. N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(a)
- Making a Fake ID or Possessing Materials to Make a Fake ID In New Jersey, making a fake ID or possessing the materials or devices necessary to make a fake ID is illegal. This includes making a driver's license, birth certificate, or any government ID. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(b). Making a fake ID or possessing materials to make a fake ID is a second-degree indictable offense, a felony-level crime. A conviction is punishable by five to ten years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
- Using a Fake ID In New Jersey, it is illegal to “display, exhibit, or otherwise use” any fake identification documents. These prohibited fake documents include fake driver's licenses, birth certificates, or other government-issued identification. Using or displaying a fake ID is a third-degree indictable offense, a felony-level crime. A conviction in New Jersey is punishable by three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(c).
- Possessing a Fake ID In New Jersey, it is also illegal to possess a fake ID. While possessing a fake ID is a fourth-degree indictable offense, the lowest level of an indictable offense in New Jersey, it is still a felony-level crime. Prohibited fake IDs include fake driver's licenses, birth certificates, and other fake government-issued IDs. A conviction for possessing a fake ID can be punished by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:21-2.1(d).
- Tampering with an Official ID Many people might think that changing the birth date or name on an official ID is no big deal. But under New Jersey law, this is tampering with an official ID, and it is illegal. It is illegal to attempt to “tamper with or to alter an authentic document or record” to change any information or name on the official document. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:28-7(b). For example, if your child tries to change the birth date on their driver's license to make themselves 21, the police could charge them with tampering with an official ID. Tampering with an ID is a third-degree indictable offense, a felony-level charge, and they could face three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
It's important to note that the Warren County police can charge your child with more than one fake ID offense to get them to plead guilty. If your child uses a fake ID or tries to use it to buy alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, or something else they can't legally purchase until they're 21, the state won't typically bring felony charges. Rather, your child will face a disorderly persons offense, which is a misdemeanor-level charge, unless they also used the fake ID to commit another fraud as well.
Juvenile Fake ID Charges in Warren County
Fake ID charges for people under 18 are typically disorderly persons offenses, which are misdemeanor offenses. If your child is charged with a disorderly persons offense for a fake ID crime, they could face up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. But New Jersey also has alternatives to traditional jail or juvenile facilities, including:
- Using “house arrest” with monitoring during home detention after releasing the child to the parents
- Releasing a child to their parent or parents, if the parent assures the court that the child will return for hearings
- Placing the minor into the custody of an agency
- Any additional alternatives the court may agree to
Most juvenile courts in New Jersey create their own rules. But under the law, your child is entitled to an attorney if they could face jail time or incarceration from a conviction. You don't have to hire an attorney, but an experienced attorney will give your child their best chance at avoiding a fake ID conviction.
Can You Expunge Fake ID Charges in Warren County?
If you want to avoid a criminal record for your child, the best way is to avoid a conviction for a fake ID charge. But if a conviction happens, New Jersey does offer some options to give people a second chance. If convicted of a fake ID charge, your child may later be eligible to expunge a record, hiding it from public view. In New Jersey, an expungement is a court order directing the police, courts, and state agencies to remove arrest, court, or criminal records from public access. With an expungement after a criminal conviction, your child may have more educational and career opportunities.
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 some specific records under the law, including “complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets” and judicial docket records.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 (2019).
- Expunging Disorderly Persons Offenses If your child has a limited criminal history, they may be able to use a traditional expungement pathway to clean up their record. Without any prior criminal history, you can expunge up to five disorderly persons offenses, equivalent to misdemeanors, including petty disorderly offenses. However, your child must wait five years after completing their sentence and paying all fines. If your child has a conviction for an indictable offense, which is the equivalent of a felony, they can also expunge three disorderly persons offenses. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 (2019). New Jersey also has a newer early pathway option for expunging some convictions. If your child qualifies for the early pathway option, they may only need to wait three years after completing a sentence and paying all fines to become eligible for an expungement.
- New Jersey's Clean Slate Law New Jersey also has a new expungement pathway known as a “clean slate” expungement. Several years ago, the legislature passed the clean slate, recognizing that New Jersey's current expungement law was too restrictive. Under the clean slate law, you can have your entire arrest and conviction record expunged. The new law allows expungement even if you aren't eligible under traditional expungement pathways because of multiple indictable offenses or a prior expungement. The waiting period for a clean slate expungement is ten years.
- Expunging Juvenile Offenses If your child has juvenile convictions for fake ID charges, they may be eligible to have them expunged. Typically, juvenile charges are eligible for expungement unless they involve serious offenses such as murder or other violent crimes if they would be ineligible for an expungement if the crimes had happened when they were an adult. Your child must wait three years after completing their sentence or supervision to be eligible to expunge juvenile charges. See N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1 (2019).
Why Hire an Attorney for Fake ID Charges?
While an expungement is a useful tool to remove an arrest or conviction from public view, the records will still exist. Unlike in some other states, an expungement in New Jersey will not destroy these records. The police and other law enforcement agencies will still be able to access an expunged New Jersey record. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that your child has an experienced criminal defense lawyer protecting their rights.
You Need an Experienced Warren County Attorney
If you have a college or a high school student facing fake ID charges in Warren County, they need a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Felony and misdemeanor-level convictions can have serious consequences. To avoid the long-term effects on your child's future educational or career prospects, you need an attorney to protect their rights.