When you were younger, borrowing a friend's ID to get into a club or buy a case of beer probably didn't seem like a big deal. It happens all the time, right? But in Pennsylvania and many states nationwide, legislatures are working on reducing underage drinking. In Pennsylvania, you must be 21 to purchase alcohol legally. And if you're carrying a fake ID, whether it's one you've altered, purchased, or borrowed, it is a crime.
Unfortunately, a criminal record, even for a misdemeanor offense, can hinder your chances of getting into college or graduate school. Or impact your future career. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law offers a second chance. You may qualify to expunge or seal your record under the state's Clean Slate or Act 5 legislation.
Charges for Carrying a Fake ID in Pennsylvania
You can face charges for carrying a fake ID in Pennsylvania if you have an ID that says you are over 21 when you are not. The statute states:
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. Stat. § 6310.3(a) (2018).
Penalties for Carrying a Fake ID in Pennsylvania
A first conviction for carrying a fake ID is typically a summary offense in Pennsylvania. A summary offense is less serious than a misdemeanor or felony and carries smaller penalties. Typically, a conviction for a summary offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $300 fine, and restitution for any damage caused. For a second or subsequent conviction, you could face a third-degree misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, a third-degree misdemeanor is typically punishable by a fine of $500 to $2,500 and up to 90 days in jail.
However, the statute imposes a minimum penalty for carrying a fake ID. If convicted, you'll face at least a $500 fine for the second and subsequent offenses. The statute states:
(b) Minimum penalty.--A person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for the second and subsequent violations. No court shall have the authority to suspend any sentence as defined in this section.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6310.3(b) (2018).
If you're a minor convicted of carrying a fake ID, you could face the typical $500 fine. The statute states:
(c) Adjudication of delinquency. --In addition to any other disposition authorized by law, a person adjudicated delinquent under subsection (a) may be ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $500 for an adjudication of delinquency.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6310.3(c) (2018). The legislature mandates penalties for carrying a fake ID to help deter underage consumption of alcohol.
Sealing Your Record for Carrying a Fake ID Through Clean Slate
In the past, many people who qualified to seal their criminal records haven't done so, partly because the process could be challenging and partly because they weren't aware of their eligibility. As a result, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a new law to make cleaning up a criminal record accessible to more people. Under the new Clean Slate law, the state will automatically seal your record after five to ten years if you qualify. While sealed records will still exist, the public will no longer have easy access. You may qualify for automatic Clean Slate sealing if:
- You have a summary conviction,
- You have a second or third-degree misdemeanor conviction,
- You have an ungraded conviction punishable by no more than two years in jail, or
- You don't have a conviction because the state dismissed the charges or the court found you not guilty.
If you have a summary conviction for carrying a fake ID and qualify, the state will automatically seal your records after five years. The waiting period is ten years if you have a third-degree misdemeanor conviction for carrying a fake ID. However, the waiting period may vary for a juvenile conviction.
You may also qualify to expunge your records if you have a summary conviction. Expunging is a more effective solution because the court will order the destruction of your arrest and court records. The restrictions on expunging records are much more stringent. You may qualify to expunge your record if:
- It has been at least five years since you completed your sentence,
- You don't have any more prosecutions or arrests in the last five years,
- Your conviction was for a summary offense,
- Your conviction was for an underage alcohol offense,
- Your conviction was a juvenile conviction for fake ID charges, and you are now over 18,
- You are at least 70, and it's been ten years since your conviction,
- The individual with the record has been deceased for at least three years, or
- You receive a pardon from the governor.
You will need to petition the court to expunge your record.
Sealing a Carrying a Fake ID Conviction with an Act 5 Petition
Not everyone will qualify for Clean Slate's automatic sealing provisions. However, you may still qualify to seal your record through a petition to the court under Act 5. While the process isn't automatic, Act 5 allows you to seal a broader range of convictions. You may qualify for Act 5 sealing if:
- It's been at least ten years since you completed your sentence,
- You weren't arrested or convicted of any additional crimes punishable by a year or more in jail,
- You had a conviction for a misdemeanor or ungraded conviction punishable by no more than five years in prison.
Sealing a Juvenile Record for Carrying a Fake ID
If you were a juvenile when you received a conviction for carrying false identification, you might qualify to expunge or seal your record if you are now 18 and have waited six months to five years after completing your sentence or supervision. Your waiting period will depend on whether your conviction was for a summary offense or a misdemeanor and whether you have any additional convictions. Figuring out whether you meet the qualifications to expunge or seal a juvenile conviction can be tricky. That's why you should consult the experienced Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.
You Need Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm
If you or your child has a conviction for carrying false identification, it's time to think about cleaning up that criminal record. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians like you for years. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.