Fake ID Laws

Many remember a time before 9/11 when using a fake ID was almost a rite of passage, and those caught doing so were usually subject only to having their ID confiscated, a thorough scolding, and being sent home to answer to likely irate parents. While still prevalent, using fake ID's is no longer considered a harmless practice and those caught making or using them can face very severe criminal punishments.

Whether you are using a fake ID to buy drinks, get cigarettes, or convince someone you are somebody else, using or making a fake ID to misrepresent your age or identity is a crime in every state. While many such instances still go unreported, since it is impossible for law enforcement to monitor every venue where a fake ID could be used, those who are caught could face fines, imprisonment, or in the case of those faking their citizenship status, deportation.

When one uses a fake ID, that person can be prosecuted for a number of different crimes. Since most of these laws are state specific, the punishments will vary by jurisdiction, but run from $500 misdemeanor fines in more lenient states up to felony convictions
for impersonation or forgery and sentences of more than a year in prison. If the ID is used to purchase a firearm, it is a felony in every state and the sentences are usually several years. Similarly, using a fake ID to buy alcohol, tobacco, or other controlled substances while underage is also a crime in every state, though the severity of punishment will vary by jurisdiction.

Modifying a real ID, on the other hand, can lead to other charges, such as tampering with public records or altering government documents. Some states treat this as a very serious felony, particularly with reference to driver's licenses or other forms of state issued identification, with punishments usually running for several years in prison. If the ID belongs to someone else and you use it for financial purposes, you may also be charged with identity theft and, depending on the amount of fraudulent transactions, could face misdemeanor or felony charges for this activity.

In a post 9/11 world, using fake ID's may also have national security implications. Using one to gain access to a restricted building, for instance, may lead to charges ranging from simple trespassing all the way up to espionage, treason, and terrorism. While it might once have been a funny prank to go someplace one was not supposed to, in the modern world such activities could put one in a federal prison cell for a substantial number of years.

Finally, it should also be noted that there can be civil liability for using a fake ID. Some states allow civil damages from bars or liquor stores against minors who try to use a fake ID to buy alcohol or gain admission. These penalties are often statutory and strict-liability, meaning that the bar or liquor store need not suffer any actual harm to recover a statutory amount designated as damages. This is, of course, in addition to being able to detain you while waiting for the police to arrive and arrest you, as well as any criminally imposed fines and court costs associated with the case.

Consequently, if you are considering buying, making, or using a fake ID, do not do it. The consequences far outweigh any possible benefits you could obtain. If you have already been charged with such an act, you should immediately seek assistance from a local attorney experienced with criminal matters. This charge should not be taken lightly or you may find yourself in prison for a very long time for what seemed like “harmless fun.”

Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case.

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