Due to their underdeveloped brain and lack of maturity, it's expected for teens and young adults to display lapses in judgment. This demographic of individuals are bound to make mistakes and act in ways that make most adults scratch their heads in confusion. Among these bad decisions is the attempt of individuals under the age of 21 to “game the system,” or find a way to get around the law.
The drinking age in Philadelphia is 21, and although there are laws restricting young people's access to alcohol, they have come up with very creative ways to obtain it anyway. A popular alternative is the manufacturing and usage of a fake ID. In this day and age, there are entire companies dedicated to producing high-quality unauthorized IDs, all for the purpose of purchasing alcohol, buying cigarettes, and getting into clubs.
Alcohol-related crimes for juveniles are taken very seriously by state authorities. Even in Philadelphia, where a plethora of colleges and universities are located, and where this behavior is to be expected, local authorities do not prosecute underage individuals charged with this crime with leniency. A conviction for a crime related to a fake ID will likely result in serious legal ramifications that can haunt you or your child for the rest of their lives.
If you or your child has been charged with an offense involving a fake ID, your first step should be to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney. A legal professional will be able to get your sentence reduced or get your case dismissed altogether. Your next step would be to gain an understanding of how Pennsylvania enforces the laws and penalties relating to your criminal charges.
Fake ID Laws in Pennsylvania
How does the law define fake identification?
In order to understand the laws revolving around “fake identification”, you must understand how the state defines this term. Pennsylvania statutes provide that a fake identification card, in particular, is one that includes information “falsely identifying that person by name, age, date of birth or photograph as being 21 years of age or older.”
Fake ID charges
Statutory law prohibits a broad range of actions in relation to using, manufacturing, or possessing fake identification for the purposes of accessing alcoholic beverages. Since the state has criminalized all aspects of fake identification, nearly everyone involved in the process of perpetuating this misrepresentation is exposed to dire criminal penalties in accordance with the following offenses:
- Misrepresentation of age to purchase alcoholic beverages (18 Pa. C.S. § 6307)
- Manufacture or sale of false identification card (18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.2)
- Carrying a false ID (18 Pa. C.S. § 6310.3)
In these cases, the person who obtained a fake ID to purchase alcohol under false pretenses, the individual who crafted, sold or distributed the fake ID, and the person who is caught carrying a false ID card (whether or not they had intentions of using it themselves) may be charged and convicted of this offense.
Remember, although dealings with fake IDs don't always involve alcohol, the cases that do rarely charge fake ID charges as a standalone crime. This offense can serve as a gateway crime to charge other alcohol affiliated offenses such as “minor in possession” alongside fake identification charges. The combination of these convictions on your child's criminal record can be detrimental. For attendees of higher education institutions, a conviction of this offense could warrant an expulsion. But administrative penalties may be the least of your worries.
Prosecutors have been known to be overzealous in their attempt to invoke a guilty verdict for this crime. Their aim is to make examples out of the teens and young adults who are caught violating any of these offenses. If you are caught possessing or carrying a fake ID to purchase alcohol you are facing a fine of up to $500, and a license suspension for a maximum of 2 years. For all suspected violations, the parents or guardian of a minor must be notified.
An individual who is arrested for manufacturing, making altering, or selling an identification card (or attempting to complete any of these actions) will have to pay a hefty price for the commission of this crime. For individuals 18 or older, this offense is punishable by a mandatory fine of no less than $1,000 for a first offense, and a fine of at least $2,500 for each subsequent violation. Individuals under the age of 17 will face a mandatory fine of $500 for a first conviction, while subsequent convictions warrant a $1,000 fine.
The law emphasizes that establishments that sell alcohol will also be held accountable for an underage person's accessibility to alcohol. Pennsylvania requires that bartenders, bouncers, and servers verify the identity of each customer who seeks to purchase alcohol within an establishment. It is the business' responsibility to ensure the information on the ID is valid, and that it belongs to the person who presents it. A failure to snuff out fake IDs can lead to potential penalties imposed by the state against a business, which includes fines, the suspension of an alcohol license, and a license revocation.
With the vast advancement of technology and the existence of new-age imaging tools and devices, identifying a fake ID from an authorized one has become much more difficult. States tend to give establishments some slack as long as employees use considerable methods to attempt to detect an invalid ID.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
Many opportunities to progress in society are foiled due to the existence of a daunting and restrictive criminal record. Young people with incredible potential will not get the fair shot they deserve to succeed with a convicted offense in their past looming over their heads. Joseph D. Lento has over 15 years of experience representing juvenile clients who have acquired charges for fake IDs and alcohol-related offenses, and he's helped avoid the creation of a criminal record.
If your child has been charged with this offense, immediately contact criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today for a consultation.