Many young people think that if they ever get caught using a fake ID, it won't be a big deal. After all, everyone expects underage adults to use a fake ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes, so you can't get in that much trouble—right? Wrong! If you get charged with violating a fake or false ID law in Berks County, you may be shocked at how much legal trouble you're in. The truth is that anyone who uses a fake ID for any reason can end up with severe penalties to pay—criminally, academically, professionally, and personally. And you can also face major penalties from making and selling fake IDs.
If you are charged with breaking fake ID laws in Berks County, you are going to need an attorney with expertise in this aspect of the law to defend you against the charges. Individuals who fail to mount an effective defense against the charges could be punished with steep fines, jail time, other legal penalties, and an embarrassing criminal record. The resulting negative impacts on your academic progress, your career prospects, and your personal life could haunt you for a long time.
Types of Fake ID Violations
There are a lot of ways to get into trouble under Pennsylvania fake ID laws. You would be breaking the law not only by using a fake ID but also by using someone else's valid ID or by making or selling fake IDs. Here is a list of different ID-related situations that could get you into serious legal trouble:
- Using another person's valid ID as your own
- Presenting a fake ID to a law enforcement officer
- Using a forged ID
- Using a fabricated ID
- Using an altered ID
- Falsifying information to obtain a government-issued ID
- Fabricating a fake ID
- Making or selling a fake ID
- Possessing a fake ID
An important fact to remember is that the only valid, legal ID is an ID that has been issued to a specific person by the state or federal government on the basis of truthful information provided by that person. Any other use of an ID could lead to long-lasting consequences for anyone who breaks the law.
Specific Fake ID Laws
Fake ID laws in Pennsylvania include provisions that cover several kinds of criminal offenses. Some provisions cover the use of a fake ID to buy alcohol, cigarettes, or vape products. Other provisions address the use of a fake ID to misrepresent one's identity to a law enforcement officer. Still, other provisions criminalize the possession, fabrication, and selling of fake IDs.
Here are three fake ID laws in Pennsylvania:
- 18 Pa. C.S. § 4914, False Identification to Law Enforcement Authorities. Under Section 4914, a person commits a third-degree misdemeanor offense if they furnish “law enforcement authorities with false information about [their] identity after being informed by a law enforcement officer who is in uniform or who has identified himself as a law enforcement officer that the person is the subject of an official investigation of a violation of law.”
- 18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.2, Manufacture or Sale of False Identification Card. Under Section 6310.2, a person commits a second-degree summary offense if they “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly manufactures, makes, alters, sells or attempts to sell an identification card falsely representing the identity, birth date or age of another.”
- 18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.3, Carrying a False Identification Card. Under Section 6310.3, a person commits a summary offense if they are under 21 and use someone else's ID or a fabricated ID to buy alcohol.
Penalties Mandated by Fake ID Laws
Pennsylvania's fake ID laws provide certain penalties for particular offenses. For example, for the first violation of Section 6310.2, the offender may be required to pay a fine of at least $1,000. Additional violations of Section 6310.2 will mean fines of at least $2,500. For violations of Section 6310.3, the fine could be as much as $500.
Note that offenses under Sections 6310.2 and 6310.3 are considered summary offenses. Many people think that summary offenses are just minor infractions, but they can still land you in jail for 90 days, and they will go on your criminal record. Offenses under Section 4914 are considered third-degree misdemeanor offenses. Penalties for those kinds of violations could put you in jail for one year and require you to pay very expensive fines.
Defending Against Fake ID Charges in Berks County
If you get charged with a fake ID offense, you are going to need an experienced attorney who knows how to successfully defend your innocence by examining the legal details. As an example, under Section 6310.2, you cannot be convicted unless there was an element of intent or recklessness on your part. Therefore, to defend you under this law, your attorney could argue that you did not act intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
In another example, under Section 4914, your attorney might make the case that you did not know that the person asking you for ID information was a law enforcement officer. Perhaps the officer did not properly—that is, according to the law—identify himself or herself to you. Your defense attorney will probe your mind and memory to discover such important details, which will be beneficial to your defense.
Long-term Effects of Fake ID Charges
The mistake of using, possessing, or fabricating a fake ID—a crime of dishonesty under Pennsylvania law—can follow you around for years. Even if the criminal charges are dropped, information pertaining to a fake ID charge will remain on your criminal record. When you apply for jobs, school programs, the military, or other positions, you may be viewed as dishonest, lacking judgment, and having poor character.
Even as an older adult, your fake ID incident could still show up on background checks that are conducted for employment, housing, and other purposes. Individuals who have charges or convictions on their criminal records may eventually want to consider expungement options with an attorney. However, your best option is to hire an attorney to defend you as soon as you are accused.
Code of Conduct Violations
Besides the criminal charges associated with fake IDs, there are also violations of your school's codes of conduct that you will have to deal with. Codes of conduct are standards of behavior that colleges and universities expect their students to follow. Such codes typically include standards of conduct regarding fake IDs, underage consumption of alcohol and drugs, and other alcohol- and drug-related violations. Violators are subject to school sanctions, which may include suspension or expulsion.
Below are examples of such standards from the code of conduct policies of Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania:
Possession, distribution, use and/or consumption of alcohol by students under 21 years of age is strictly prohibited on campus...
Students who violate any of the above alcohol regulations will be subject to a minimum penalty of a disciplinary warning. Subsequent offenses will result in more serious action. Offenses and sanctions will be kept on file in the Community Standards office and reported to the appropriate agencies...
In addition to sanctions imposed by the College, alcohol violations may be referred to the appropriate external authorities... violations may result in penalties ranging from fines through suspension of a driver's license and possible imprisonment.
Another type of violation of a school's codes of conduct is using a fake ID to help a fellow student cheat on exams or classwork. That would likely violate codes regarding academic misconduct. Sanctions for such offenses could be probation, loss of scholarships and internship opportunities, or suspension or expulsion.
Academic and Professional Consequences of Fake ID Convictions
Misdemeanor convictions on fake ID charges could adversely affect your future admission to academic programs or to student residences at colleges and universities. Convictions could also damage your internship and externship opportunities. After graduation, any kind of criminal record may create difficulties for you if you seek professional licensure from the state.
Contact a Berks County Fake ID Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of using, selling, making, or possessing fake IDs in Berks County—or if you have a child or other loved one facing such an accusation—you must act quickly to have the best chance of a successful defense. Your first step should be to contact a defense attorney with expertise in fake ID cases. With an expert attorney, you can minimize the potentially harsh consequences of fake ID charges and convictions.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento will handle all the complex issues involved in mounting a strong defense against fake ID accusations. He is an experienced student discipline defense attorney who knows how to communicate with your school's disciplinary board to mitigate the impacts of false ID accusations, as well as defend you before the state authorities.
To learn how Attorney Lento and his experienced team will fight for your rights after a fake ID charge, call 888-535-3686 right away. The Lento Law Firm can also be contacted via its online form.