Fake ID laws in Pennsylvania are to be taken seriously. If you're charged with violating a fake or false ID law in Lehigh County, you will probably be surprised at how much legal trouble you face. Most people mistakenly presume that if they get caught using a fake ID, it won't amount to a big deal. They figure that everyone simply expects young adults to use a fake ID to buy alcohol or cigarettes. But here is the cold, hard truth: Anyone who uses a fake ID for any reason can end up with severe consequences. Furthermore, you can face major penalties for making and selling fake IDs.
If you have been charged with breaking fake ID laws in Lehigh County, you will need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to defend you against the charges. An inability to mount an effective defense could result in steep fines, other legal penalties, and a criminal record, the latter of which could adversely impact your academic progress, your career prospects, and your personal life.
Types of Fake ID Violations
There are different kinds of fake IDs and different ways to get into trouble with fake IDs. Lots of people mistakenly think that a fake ID is just the item that you pay somebody to fabricate for you. However, you would also be violating Pennsylvania fake ID laws if you use someone else's valid ID. Here are some different fake ID situations that could get you into legal hot water:
- 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
- Selling a fake ID
- Possessing a fake ID
You should keep in mind that the only valid, legal ID is one issued to a specific person by the state or federal government on the basis of truthful information presented by that individual. Any other use of an ID could lead to severe consequences and long-lasting legal troubles for the violator.
Specific Fake ID Laws
Pennsylvania's fake ID laws have a number of provisions covering various possible offenses. Under some provisions, an underage person could be prosecuted for using 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.
Three of the main fake ID laws in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- 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
The penalties mandated by fake ID laws include fines of at least $1,000 for the first violation of Section 6310.2 and as much as $500 for violations of Section 6310.3. Subsequent violations of Section 6310.2 will result in fines of no less than $2,500.
You will note that the violations of fake ID laws in Sections 6310.2 and 6310.3 are considered summary offenses. However, do not make the common mistake of assuming that summary offenses are only minor infractions. These offenses can result in 90 days of jail time, and they will go on your criminal record. Violations of Section 4914 involve tougher penalties, as they are considered third-degree misdemeanor offenses. Penalties for those violations could entail as much as one year in jail in addition to expensive fines.
Defending Against Fake ID Charges in Lehigh County
If you are charged with a fake ID offense, an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of the ID laws may be able to successfully defend your innocence by delving into the legal details. For example, under Section 6310.2, the law requires an element of intent or recklessness for conviction. Thus, if you're accused of breaking this law, your attorney may argue that you did not act intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
In another example, under Section 4914, your attorney might argue that you didn't know that the person asking you for information was a law enforcement officer. The officer may not have correctly identified himself or herself to you, raising reasonable suspicions regarding your privacy. An effective defense attorney will ask you about such details to try to prompt your memory regarding any facts that could be beneficial to your defense.
Long-term Effects of Fake ID Charges
The consequences of using, possessing, or fabricating a fake ID can continue to adversely affect your life for years. Any fake ID charge is considered to be a crime of dishonesty under Pennsylvania law. Moreover, potential employers, schools, the military, and other organizations with which you have contact will regard a fake ID charge as a reflection of your dishonesty, poor judgment, and impropriety.
A fake ID charge will become part of your criminal record, which includes any negative interactions that you have had with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. Even if the criminal charges are eventually dropped, information pertaining to the charges will remain on your criminal record.
And even when you become a much older, more mature adult, a mistake you made many years before could still show up on background checks that are conducted for employment, housing, and other purposes. The best long-term course of action for individuals who have charges or convictions on their criminal records may be to explore expungement options with an attorney. However, an even better option is to defend yourself with the expertise of an attorney right from the start.
Code of Conduct Violations
In addition to breaking the law, students who use fake IDs are also likely violating their school's codes of conduct, which are behavioral standards that colleges and universities expect all their students to follow. Many codes of conduct prohibit students from misbehaving in the community at large, such as by using fake IDs to get into off-campus bars or clubs, as well as misbehaving on campus. For example, the Office of Student Conduct at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, specifically states the following on its web page about disciplinary offenses:
In cases involving student misconduct off-campus, the University reserves the right to exercise its discretion in taking disciplinary action. If found responsible, students are subject to the same sanction imposed for on-campus violations.
A student accused of violating his or her school's conduct codes is usually investigated by the school. If found to be responsible for an alcohol-related violation, the student could face suspension or even expulsion.
Using fake IDs to help another student cheat on exams or classwork would likely be another violation of a school's codes of conduct—in this case, the codes regarding academic misconduct. Students placed on probation for violating academic misconduct codes will probably lose their scholarships and may have to forego internship opportunities. They may also face suspension or expulsion.
Academic and Professional Consequences of Fake ID Convictions
Misdemeanor convictions on fake ID charges could negatively impact your future admission to academic programs or to student residences at institutions of higher education. Such convictions could also limit your internship and externship opportunities. Additionally, graduates seeking state licensure may confront significant hurdles in the application process if they have any kind of criminal record.
Contact a Lehigh County Fake ID Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of using, selling, making, or possessing fake IDs in Lehigh County—or if you have a child or other loved one accused of such a crime—you need to act fast to have the best chance of mounting a strong defense. Your first step should be to contact a defense attorney with expertise in fake ID cases. Developing an early and strong defense strategy is essential to minimizing the consequences of fake ID charges and convictions on your life.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento knows how to handle all the factors involved in presenting a successful defense against fake ID accusations. In addition to being skilled in defending the accused before state authorities, he is also 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.
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.