Talking about fake IDs generally brings up the mental image of a teenager acquiring a fake license to get into bars and buy alcohol. Many people consider it a rite of passage to slightly alter an older sibling’s license. Others purchase a fake ID from someone who can make a counterfeit license that looks authentic. Even though this seems innocent, creating or using a forged or counterfeit driver’s license or ID card is illegal. If you’ve been charged with creating or using a fake ID, call a San Diego fraud defense lawyer. The price of an attorney may seem intimidating, but the cost and consequences of a permanent criminal record are far higher.
Forging or Counterfeiting a Driver’s License or ID
California Penal Code §470(a) prohibits the creation of fake driver’s licenses or ID cards. Forgery includes knowingly altering or creating a written document or instrument with the intent to obtain a personal benefit. Counterfeiting is the altering or creating of an imitation of an item with the intention to pass it off as genuine.
Examples of forging and counterfeiting include:
- Changing the photo on a driver’s license or ID card
- Changing the expiration date on a driver’s license or ID card
- Altering the birth date on a driver’s license or ID card
- Creating an entire ID with fake personal information
Some forgeries and counterfeits are sophisticated, others are homemade attempts at minor alterations to IDs. All of these options are equally illegal.
Additionally, it doesn’t matter if the license or ID in question is from California. Any altered or imitated government-issued license or ID is covered by California law.
Using a Fake License or ID
Under California law, it’s illegal to possess or display fake identification with the intent to use that fake ID to commit a forgery. This may sound like a person must use the fake ID to commit a specific crime, but forgery merely means fraud or deception. A person can be charged with displaying a fake ID if he or she tries to use it to deceive another person in order to gain a benefit and cause a loss to someone else. This is the portion of the law that covers an underage person’s attempt to purchase alcohol or cigarettes with a fake ID.
Related False ID Offenses
California Vehicle Code §13004 covers unlawful acts involving ID cards and the manufacturing or selling of counterfeit ID cards. Individuals can be charged under the vehicle code instead of the penal code when it comes to creating, possessing, or using fake IDs.
Offenses under this statute are misdemeanors. Defense attorneys will sometimes negotiate with prosecutors to reduce a charge from under the penal code to a charge under the vehicle code.
Possible Penalties For Forging a Driver’s License or ID
Forging, counterfeiting, or using a fake ID can all be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. In most situations, whether the prosecutor pushes for a felony depends on the specific facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.
A misdemeanor conviction can come with one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. However, if you’re convicted of a felony, you face up to three years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
The range of consequences is just one of the reasons it’s important for a defendant to have an attorney. A lawyer will advocate for the minimum possible penalty upon conviction.
Your Available Defenses
There are a number of defenses available to this crime, including that you never possessed a fake ID, you didn’t know the license or ID was fake, or you didn’t intend to commit fraud with the fake ID. For instance, if a teenager had a fake ID to show off to his or her friends, but never intended to use it, he or she can argue there was no fraudulent intent.
Contact a San Diego Fraud Defense Lawyer
Whether you’re young or getting on in years, a charge of license- or ID-related fraud is serious, and a conviction leads to a permanent criminal record. A criminal record follows someone around the rest of their life, possibly interfering with going to school, getting a job, or being approved for loans.
By working with an experienced California defense attorney, someone charged with one of these offenses has a better chance of reducing the charges, proving their innocence, or minimizing the consequences of a conviction. A San Diego fraud defense lawyer will get to know you, the facts surrounding your case, and will build a strong defense for your case.