Young adults who try to purchase alcohol or gain access to bars with a fake ID need to understand that their actions can have dire consequences. In New Jersey, it is unlawful to possess, display, create, and/or sell a fake ID. Each of these actions is a crime that is punishable by jail time and carries with it the stain of a criminal record that could ruin a juvenile’s future.
What Are the Penalties for Having a Fake ID in New Jersey?
The consequences for having a fake ID in NJ depend on what statute one is charged under. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(c), Displaying a False Document, it is unlawful to “exhibit, display, or utter” any document or writing that is meant to resemble a document issued by the government that could be used to identify the person. This specifically includes a driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport, but could also apply to other documents.
Essentially, this law makes it a crime to use a fake ID for the purpose of misrepresenting one’s age or other personal information. Displaying a false document is a third-degree crime (felony). If found guilty, a person can face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Thankfully, this harsh penalty is not usually applicable to juveniles (see below).
If the person is found in possession of a fake ID but has not attempted to use it, he/she may be charged with Possessing a False Document (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1d). This makes it a crime to merely have on one’s person any document or writing that falsely represents one’s age or other personal information. Possessing a fake ID is a fourth-degree crime (felony) in New Jersey, and a conviction means facing up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition, regardless of which crime one is charged with, a person can have their driving privileges suspended for 6 months to 2 years.
Can I Be Charged with Identity Theft for Having a Fake ID?
Yes. New Jersey law allows for a person to be charged with identity theft for using a fake ID. To understand more about this crime and its penalties, read our information page here.
What Are the Penalties for Juveniles with Fake IDs in NJ?
When a juvenile possesses or displays a fake ID, he/she will almost always be charged with a disorderly persons offense. The State of New Jersey finds it much worse for an adult to use a fake ID in order to further an unlawful objective (i.e. commercial fraud, misrepresentation, etc.) than for a youth to lie about his/her age for the purposes of getting access to alcohol or cigarettes.
Therefore, under most circumstances, when a juvenile is convicted of displaying or possessing a fake ID, he/she will face a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, and a mandatory suspension of his/her driver’s license. If the youth does not yet have a driver’s license, then the suspension will begin the moment he/she is issued a full license (at age 17).
Making Fake IDs (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17.3 a)
It is also a crime to distribute, manufacture, or possesses any item with the identifying information of another person with knowledge of facilitating fraud. In other words, it is illegal to create a fake ID to give to another person who it is known is going to use it to misrepresent himself.
In most cases this is a fourth-degree crime. However, if a person who makes 20 or more fake IDs or 5 or more fake IDs each containing different personal information, then he/she will be guilty of a third-degree crime. If a juvenile is caught doing this, he could be put in juvenile detention for up to 2 years.
Lastly, it is a second-degree crime to make 50 or more fake IDs or 10 or more fake IDs using the personal information of 5 or more separate people. This can lead to up to 10 years in prison (3 years in juvenile detention for minors).
Defenses to Having a Fake ID in New Jersey
There are many ways that a person can avoid getting convicted of a fake ID-related charge. One is disprove possession, meaning to prevent the prosecution from proving beyond doubt that the ID was legally belonged to the defendant. Another is to prove a case of mistaken identity. For example, if the defendant was arrested at a party or in a crowded bar/club, it is possible that the police arrested the wrong person.
In other cases, it may be possible to demonstrate that the arrest and/or discovery of evidence was not lawful to begin with. This can happen when racial, ethnic, socio-economic, or other types of bias are a factor arrest in an arrest. Likewise, if the police did not have probable cause to stop and/or search the defendant, then the charge could be dismissed.
If the charges cannot be dismissed or the evidence against the defendant is strong, then it may be possible to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charge to a municipal offense, rather than a disorderly persons offense. This will reduce or eliminate the risk of jail time as well as any fines. Moreover, a municipal offense will not result in a criminal record.
Why Someone Caught With a Fake ID Should Hire an Attorney
No one should take a charge of crimes under statute 2C:21-2.1 lightly. It is not advisable for a person to handle such a predicament on their own. A skilled attorney will know the ins and outs of the law and can present a strong defense built on the facts of the case. An attorney will be able to determine if the search and arrest were made lawfully or if any evidence uncovered, including the ID itself, can be suppressed (meaning it can’t be used against the defendant at trial). If it is in the client’s best interest to negotiate instead of going to trial, the attorney will be able to present arguments on behalf of the client with the best chance of getting a fair deal.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or your child was charged with displaying, possessing, or manufacturing a fake ID in New Jersey, contact the attorneys at Rosenblum Law today. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have helped many people in similar situations. We can defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail, and do what he can to have the fake ID charges dismissed. E-mail or call today at 888-979-7551.