New Jersey Fake ID Arrests

Kids have been using fake IDs to try and get tobacco and alcohol as long as New Jersey has had age limits in place. If your child is under 21 and arrested for trying to get into a club or buy alcohol or tobacco with a fake ID, there are legal consequences.

In New Jersey, using or possessing a fake ID are third and fourth-degree felonies, similar to felonies in other states. But the police will almost always charge teens attempting to use a fake ID to buy beer or tobacco products with a disorderly persons offense, similar to a misdemeanor in other states. But just because a teen using a fake ID isn't typically a felony doesn't mean that a conviction can't be serious. Kids can face up to a $1,000 fine, possible jail time, community service, and a driver's license suspension. They will also have a criminal record, affecting college admission, student loans, employment, or even renting an apartment.  Additionally, being charged with having a Fake ID is considered a crime of dishonesty, and this additional consideration can make what may seem to be a relatively minor issue anything but that, and which can literally have far-reaching consequences for a young person as they try to advance through life.

Possessing and Using a Fake ID

We tend to think of using or possessing a fake ID as a crime that isn't serious, but law enforcement officials in New Jersey do take this crime seriously. Typically, the law sees a teen trying to purchase alcohol or tobacco while underage as less serious than an adult attempting to use a fake ID to defraud someone. The statutes applying to fake IDs reflect this disparity. Police typically charge kids using fake IDs to purchase beer under New Jersey's "tampering with public records" statute.

a. Offense defined. A person commits an offense if he/she:

(1) Knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, any record, document or thing belonging to, or received or kept by, the government for information or record, or required by law to be kept by others for information of the government;
(2) Makes, presents, offers for filing, or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false, and with purpose that it be taken as a genuine part of information or records referred to in paragraph (1); or
(3) Purposely and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes, mutilates, or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of any such record, document or thing.

b. Grading. An offense under subsection a. is a disorderly persons offense unless the actor's purpose is to defraud or injure anyone, in which case the offense is a crime of the third degree.

N.J.S.A. 2C:28-7 (2013).

  1. Possessing a Fake ID Indictable Offense

New Jersey also has statutes that cover the use of additional fake documents like birth certificates. This statute does include driver's licenses. Just possessing a fake ID in this context is a fourth-degree indictable offense.

A person who 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 is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d) (2013). Luckily, the New Jersey legislature anticipated the temptation for kids under 21 to try to use someone else's ID to buy alcohol or tobacco and made it clear that this statute doesn't apply in that situation.

A violation of N.J.S.2C:28-7, constituting a disorderly persons offense, section 1 of P.L.1979, c.264 (C.2C:33-15), R.S.33:1-81 or section 6 of P.L.1968, c.313 (C.33:1-81.7) in a case where the person uses the personal identifying information of another to illegally purchase an alcoholic beverage or for using the personal identifying information of another to misrepresent his age for the purpose of obtaining tobacco or other consumer product denied to persons under 18 years of age 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.

Id. If your child intended to use the ID only to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, it is a disorderly persons offense. (Note, although the statute references persons under 18 trying to buy tobacco products, the legal purchase age in New Jersey is now 21).

  1. Using a Fake ID Indictable Offense

Using a fake ID to misrepresent your age is a third-degree indictable offense.

A person who 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 is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c) (2013). Again, the New Jersey legislature made it clear that attempting to buy alcohol or tobacco with someone else's license is a disorderly persons offense. Id. Your child may, however, also face a minor in possession of alcohol charge. Your child may also face a fourth-degree indictable offense for assuming someone else's identity.

Lost Driving Privileges

Anyone who uses or possesses a fake ID can also lose their driving privileges for a minimum of six months and up to two years after they turn 17. That can be a long time for your teen to lose a license. See N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(e) (2013).

Selling a Fake ID

If your child sells a fake ID, they could be in even bigger trouble. This crime is a second-degree indictable offense.

A person who 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 is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(a) (2013).

Fake ID Penalties

Crime

Degree

Fine

Jail Time

License Suspension

Possessing a fake ID

4th-degree indictable offense

Up to $10,000

Up to 18 months

6 months to 2 years

Using a fake ID

3rd-degree indictable offense

Up to $15,000

Up to 5 years

6 months to 2 years

Selling a fake ID

2nd-degree indictable offense

Up to $150,000

5 to 10 years

6 months to 2 years

Possess or using a fake ID to boy alcohol or tobacco

Disorderly Persons Offense

Up to 6 months

Up to $1,000

6 months to 2 years

You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney

Just because the police can treat kids possessing or using a fake ID with disorderly persons offenses doesn't mean that they always will. It will depend on the circumstances and how your child used the ID. If the police arrested your child for possessing or using a fake ID, it's time to call a skilled criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience in criminal defense, having represented thousands of college students and juveniles, and he can help. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or contact us online to discuss your options.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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