False Identification Law in Virginia


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Sometimes students or other underaged individuals may procure false identification to buy cigarettes, buy alcohol or gain admission to locations where they are otherwise prohibited from being because of their age. These fake identification forms may be purchased online or in person, potentially acting like a driverís license from another state. However, using fake identification is a crime that carries potential criminal consequences if a person is found in possession of a fake id.

Possession of False Identification

Virginia law criminalizes the act of displaying or possessing a driverís license that he or she knows is false or that has been revoked, suspended, altered or cancelled. Additionally, it criminalizes the act of lending oneís own identification document for the fraudulent use by another. If a person displays or presents a driverís license as his or her own when it is not or copies a driverís license, driverís permit, learnerís permit or special identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles with the intent to commit a crime, he or she can be charged under the possession of false identification law. Additionally, if a person refuses to surrender upon demand the fake identification, he or she can be charged with this crime. Virginia permits law enforcement officers to confiscate fake identification cards and keep them until the court needs them for evidentiary purposes.

Showing Fake Identification to Law Enforcement

It is also a criminal act to attempt to use or to use fake identification to a law enforcement as a way to identify oneself. If a person uses false identification with the intent to deceive a law enforcement officer about his or her real identity after he or she was lawfully detained and after being requested to identify himself or herself to law enforcement can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. For this crime, a person can receive a maximum sentence of a year in jail along with a $2,500 fine.

Manufacture or Sale of False Identification

Virginia law also criminalizes the manufacture, sell or advertising for sale of false identification. This includes the manufacture or sale of any false driverís license or simulated driverís license for any state, territory or possession of the United States, a United States Armed Forces identification card, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles special identification card, college or student identification card, identification that purports to be from any foreign government, federal government or state government or United States passport when this identification could be mistaken for a valid license or form of identification. This crime is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

The act of possessing a form of identification described above is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Being Found in Possession of False Identification

Many people who use fake identification do so for the purpose of purchasing alcohol or to get into bars or clubs. Bouncers at these locations may confiscate the fake identification and report the activity to police. In other situations, law enforcement may stop a person for a traffic offense or other infraction and the person may hand the fake identification to the law enforcement accidentally or intentionally. Even if the person does not hand over the license, if he or she is arrested, the identification may be discovered during this process.

How Fake Identification Crimes Are Processed

How a particular criminal case is handled in court depends on a number of factors, including whether the defendant has a prior criminal history, whether he or she is represented by a lawyer and whether an effective plea agreement can be achieved. A lawyer may be able to negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor to drop the charges before the hearing date. If a dismissal is not possible, the lawyer may try to have the charges or penalties reduced. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to suggest alternative punishment to jail time, such as the completion of community services, drug or alcohol counseling or the payment of a fine.

A criminal defense lawyer can try to implement strategies that will help allow for expungement. Many individuals who are charged with false identification crimes are underage or college students. An expungement can help minimize the impact of a criminal conviction. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Virginia can analyze the evidence against the defendant and devise a legal strategy designed to protect his or her legal interests.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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