Using a fake ID to buy beer or get into a club was almost a rite of passage for many of us as teens or young adults. But it's serious when your child tries it and gets arrested. Using or possessing a fake ID is illegal in Pennsylvania and, in some cases, can be a felony with hefty penalties. Even borrowing a friend's ID, altering a birth date on an ID, or loaning or selling an ID to someone else can result in an arrest for fake ID charges.
If your child is facing fake ID charges in the Pottsville, North Schuylkill, Blue Mountain districts, or any school in Schuylkill County, they need an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A conviction for possessing, using, manufacturing, or altering a fake ID can follow them for years and affect their educational and career opportunities.
Fake ID Violations and Charges in Schuylkill County
Many of us have preconceived ideas about what can result in fake ID charges. Likely it involves buying a fake ID online or from some guy on the corner. But fake ID charges can encompass a much wider range of behavior.
Your child could face fake ID charges if:
- Your child uses someone else's identification
- Your child shows a fake ID to a police officer
- Your child uses a fabricated or forged ID
- Your child alters the information on an official state or federal government-issued ID
- Your child uses false information to try to obtain an official ID
- Your child manufactures an ID
- Your child loans or gives an official or fake ID to someone else
- Your child is caught possessing a fake ID
The only ID anyone can legally use is one issued by the state or federal government using truthful and accurate information or documents. Using an ID not issued to you or altering an ID can result in criminal charges. Moreover, if your child is under 21 and tries to use a fake ID to purchase tobacco or alcohol, they could face fake ID charges and additional charges as a minor attempting to buy alcohol.
Schuylkill County Fake ID Laws and Penalties
Pennsylvania's criminal code contains several sections concerning fake IDs:
- Presenting False Identification to a Police Officer It is illegal for anyone to present a fake ID to a police officer 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. § 4914 (2000). Presenting a fake ID to a law enforcement officer is a third-degree misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and 90 days in jail.
- Selling or Manufacturing a False Identification Card Your child can face charges for selling or manufacturing a fake ID if they “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” manufacture, make, alter, sell, or attempt to sell an identification card “falsely representing the identity, birth date or age of another.” 18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.2 (1988). This charge is a second-degree summary offense in Pennsylvania, punishable by a fine of $150 and 20 days in jail.
- Carrying a Fake ID Card Possessing a fake ID is also a summary offense. If your child uses someone else's ID or a fake ID to buy alcohol, that may also be a summary offense. See 18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.3 (2018). Although a summary conviction is the lowest level offense in Pennsylvania, lower than a misdemeanor or felony, a conviction can still result in a fine of up to $250 and 90 days in jail. Your child can also face additional charges for buying or possessing alcohol while underage.
Defending Against Fake ID Charges in Schuylkill County
When your child is facing the criminal justice system and fake ID charges, you need experienced help. A skilled Schuylkill County criminal defense attorney can protect your child's rights, evaluate their case, determine the best possible defense, and negotiate on their behalf.
Some common defenses in fake ID cases include challenging:
- Intent: To prove a charge of manufacturing or selling a fake ID, the state must show that your child had “intent, knowledge, or recklessness” as elements of the crime. Without proving this, the court won't convict your child.
- Police Officer Representations: The statute governing presenting a fake ID to a law enforcement officer states that the police officer must either identify themselves as a law enforcement officer or be in uniform. If the officer fails to identify themselves, the state can't convict your child. It's a common reaction for someone to resist giving personal information to someone who isn't identifiable as a police officer.
Sealing or Expunging a Fake ID Conviction in Schuylkill County
While the best outcome is always to avoid a fake ID conviction, in some cases, it may be unavoidable. If your child does have a conviction for fake ID charges, they may be eligible to expunge or seal their criminal or arrest records.
In Pennsylvania, your child can only obtain an expungement under very limited circumstances, including if:
- They haven't faced arrest or prosecution in five years, and they have only a summary conviction
- They have an underage alcohol offense conviction
- Ten years have passed since the conviction, and the applicant is 70 or older
- The applicant has been dead for at least three years
- They receive a governor's pardon
- They have a fake ID conviction from when they were a juvenile, are now over 18, and meet all the statutory requirements
However, even if your child isn't eligible to expunge their record, they may be able to seal fake ID charges instead. Pennsylvania law allows people to petition for limited access to their records or, in some cases,
will seal records automatically in a wider range of cases. When records are sealed, they will still exist, but the public won't typically have access to them.
Pennsylvania's Clean Slate law, passed in 2018, orders the court to automatically seal some convictions and arrest records after five to ten years, including misdemeanors and summary convictions. Even if your child doesn't qualify for automatic sealing, they may be able to petition the court for limited access to their misdemeanor records.
How a Fake ID Conviction Can Affect Your Child's Education
A fake ID conviction can affect your child's future education, even for an incident off campus. For example, the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Code of Student Conduct holds students to the code of conduct both on and off campus, even if the incident isn't discovered until after the student receives their degree.
While the University has a primary duty to regulate behavior on its premises, there are circumstances when the off-campus behavior of students affects a substantial University interest and warrants disciplinary action. The University expects students to conduct themselves in accordance with the law. Student misconduct occurring off the premises of the campus that may have violated any local, state, or federal law is subject to review by the University and may result in student conduct charges being filed against a student by the Dean of Students Office. When students are found responsible for off-campus conduct that both meets the definition of affecting a substantial university interest, and violates the Student Code of Conduct, sanctions will be applied.
When the University has been made aware of off-campus misconduct, the Student Code of Conduct may be applied by the University simultaneous to any criminal action taken by civil authorities. However, in some instances final action may be deferred at the discretion of the University until all external processes have been completed or until such time when the on-campus procedure may proceed without encumbrance.
Students violating the code of conduct can be subject to a wide range of sanctions depending on the severity of the offense:
- Major: Student Code of Conduct violations committed off the campus that typically would fall into the major category and yield a sanction range of suspension, including interim suspension to dismissal, are felonies to misdemeanors.
- Moderate: Student Code of Conduct violations committed off the campus that typically would fall into the moderate category and yield a sanction range of disciplinary probation to dismissal are: misdemeanors to non-traffic violations of criminal statutes.
- Minor: Student Code of Conduct violations committed off the campus that typically would fall into the minor category and yield a sanction range of disciplinary reprimand to disciplinary probation are: non-traffic summary offense of criminal statutes to violations of local codes and ordinances.
As you can see, even an incident that happens off campus involving fake ID charges can result in consequences at school. A conviction for a fake ID charge could result in the loss of college or graduate school admission, suspension or expulsion, the loss of scholarships, the loss of internships, and more. A conviction can also prevent your child from obtaining professional licenses after school, joining the military, holding a security clearance, or becoming a police officer.
Hire an Experienced Schuylkill County Fake ID Defense Attorney
Your child is innocent until proven guilty, and it's important to remember that. Just because the police arrested your child on fake ID charges doesn't mean a court will convict them. But it's important to realize the severity of the matter and ensure that your child has an experienced criminal defense attorney defending them every step.
Skilled criminal attorney Joseph D. Lento and the legal team at the Lento Law Firm is your child's best chance at avoiding a criminal conviction. They've helped many Pennsylvanians through the criminal justice system and can help you too. Attorney Lento is also well versed in student discipline defense. That means he can help your child deal with any possible repercussions from your child's college or university. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 and make an appointment for your consultation.