Can I Expunge a Charge for Carrying a Fake ID in Pennsylvania?
It seems to be a universal truth that all teens are eager to grow up faster, and Pennsylvania kids are no exception. That's why it isn't surprising that an arrest for carrying a fake ID is a pretty common charge for the under 21 set in our state. Carrying a fake ID is illegal in Pennsylvania in an attempt to combat underage drinking. But it's an easy mistake to make for teens and 20 year-olds alike without realizing the long-term consequences of having a criminal record.
Fortunately, the Pennsylvania legislature understands that people make mistakes. Under Pennsylvania law, you can try to rectify some of those mistakes by having minor offenses expunged. An expungement is a court order directing the destruction of administrative and criminal records related to an arrest, charge, or conviction.
What Can I Expunge in Pennsylvania?
You can normally expunge minor or summary offenses in Pennsylvania if you have remained prosecution and arrest-free for five years. You can also expunge charges if you were charged but never prosecuted, dropped charges, dismissed charges, and as nolle prosse dispositions.
A summary offense is a minor crime, more akin to an ordinance violation, and is less serious than a misdemeanor or felony. In Pennsylvania, the maximum penalty for a summary offense is typically 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. However, a summary offense usually only results in a fine.
You can't typically expunge misdemeanors or felonies in Pennsylvania, or you can only expunge these convictions under very limited circumstances. You may be able to seal a more serious charge in some cases.
Carrying a Fake ID in Pennsylvania
You may be eligible to have a conviction for carrying a fake ID expunged in Pennsylvania if it was a summary offense. Whether carrying a fake ID is a summary offense or a misdemeanor charge depends on whether it is your first offense.
Pennsylvania defines carrying a fake identification card as:
A person commits a summary offense for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for any subsequent violation if he, being under 21 years of age, possesses an identification card falsely identifying that person by name, age, date of birth or photograph as being 21 years of age or older or obtains or attempts to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages by using the identification card of another or by using an identification card that has not been lawfully issued to or in the name of that person who possesses the card.
18 Pa. Code § 6310.3 (2018). The statute requires a fine of not more than $500 for the second and subsequent violation. The police must also notify the parents or guardian of any minor arrested for carrying a fake ID.
The fake ID statute also specifically allows the court to admit an offender to an adjudication alternative. This statute provision permits a magisterial district judge to place an offender in a public service or charitable agency program instead of entering a disposition in the case. If completed, the judge can dismiss the charges.
Can I Expunge a Charge for Carrying a Fake ID?
You may be able to expunge a charge for carrying a fake ID if:
- The conviction was a summary offense, and at least five years have passed since you completed your sentence.
- You weren't convicted, and the police dropped the charges, the court dismissed the charges, a court found you not guilty, or the court entered a nolle prosse disposition.
- You went through a diversionary program and completed probation or community service without a conviction.
- You were a minor at the time, and you fall under one of five categories eligible for expunction.
If you have a misdemeanor conviction for carrying a fake ID as an adult, you probably can't expunge the conviction. You may, however, be able to have the records sealed. Although carrying a fake ID is not considered a drinking charge, it's important to note that you can also expunge underage drinking charges once you are 21 if you meet all court requirements.
If you were under 18 at the time of your conviction for carrying a fake ID, you should consult a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney with experience expunging juvenile records. You may have several options to explore.
Sealing Charges for Carrying a Fake ID
If you don't qualify to have a conviction for carrying a fake ID expunged because it was a misdemeanor, you may be able to have the charge sealed. Once sealed, your records aren't accessible to the public or through basic background checks. You also won't have to disclose a sealed conviction to most employers. However, law enforcement, courts, and FBI background checks will still have access to your records.
In many cases, Pennsylvania will automatically seal records for nonviolent misdemeanor convictions or records with no conviction. Charges eligible for automatic sealing include:
- Criminal arrests if you weren't convicted,
- Charges where the court or jury found you not guilty,
- Nonviolent criminal convictions that are ten years or older, and
- Misdemeanor offenses punishable by less than two years in prison.
Otherwise, you can apply to have your records sealed if it was a nonviolent offense and you've been free from arrests and criminal charges for ten years.
Hire a Pennsylvania Attorney Experienced in Expunctions
The best way to avoid a criminal record in the first place is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney at the time of your arrest. Never assume that your criminal conviction will be minor and no big deal. Even minor offenses can have unintended consequences on your long-term education, career, and professional prospects.
However, if you want to expunge or seal a criminal charge, you need the guidance of a skilled expunction attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney well versed in helping clients expunge both adult and juvenile criminal records. He can help. Give the Lento Law Firm a call at 888-535-3686.