Getting Caught Using A Fake ID Isn't A Trivial Matter

Law Blog

Years ago, getting your hands on a fake ID while you were under 21 years old so that you could sneak into a bar or buy beer for a party wasn't that hard. If you got caught, the penalty could range from nothing more than getting your ID confiscated by campus security to a few hours of community service and a fine. Now, due to the increasing importance that personal identification plays in the fight against terrorism, the penalties for a fake ID are getting far more severe. Here's what you should know.

You Can Be Convicted Of A Felony

State laws vary, but possessing a fake ID (or making one) can result in a felony conviction. Even worse, if you manage to get a real ID that's been altered in some way to change your birthdate or other identifying information, you could be facing additional charges. Mere possession of false identification isn't nearly as serious as actually tampering with government-issued identification. 

Depending on what you do with that fake ID, other crimes you could end up convicted of include:

  • forgery
  • impersonation or identity theft (if the ID is based off a real person's information)
  • possession of stolen documents (if materials used to make the ID were stolen from a DMV, for example)
  • purchasing alcohol, tobacco, or firearms while underage
  • contributing to the delinquency of minors (if you're over age 18 but used your fake ID to buy alcohol for a friend who's under age 18)

The Immediate Consequences Can Be Severe

There's a wide range of penalties possible any time a fake ID is involved in a situation, again depending on the state and what else you've been charged with aside from simply possessing the fake ID. But you could be facing:

  • fines of up to $1,000 for a first-time offense, simply for having the fake ID. However, fines could also be levied for each additional offense, plus you could be ordered to pay court costs.
  • probation, which could severely restrict your ability to do something as simple as move into a college dorm or attend an out-of-state school. Probation usually includes restrictions on your living situation or location.
  • jail time, which could be increased with each additional offense. If you receive jail time, you can probably also expect fines. You may face additional probation after your release from jail.

The Long-Term Consequences Can Also Be Serious

Aside from the immediate threat of jail time and fines, there are other consequences of getting caught with a fake ID that may not appear until well after the initial crisis is over.

If you provided your real information to someone in order to get the fake ID made, you may one day find out that you've become the victim of identity theft yourself. Your personal information may get sold and any credit you ever had destroyed before you even had a chance to use it yourself. Plus, your criminal record can continue to haunt your life indefinitely on every application you ever fill out for a school, a job, or even an apartment. It's also not uncommon to have your (real) driver's license revoked for a period of time. 

Your smartest option is to just tough it out and wait until you're 21 years old to buy beer or party at the clubs this summer. However, if you're caught with a fake ID, contact legal services right away so that you can get the best possible outcome in your case and mitigate the damages to your life.


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