With so many colleges and universities in the Boston and Cambridge area, many students think that trying to get into a bar with a fake ID is no big deal. It may be even more tempting for underage people to try, with fake IDs looking more and more realistic. Buying fake IDs is made even easier with the availability of higher quality fake identification from numerous websites. However, Massachusetts and the federal government do not take fake IDs lightly. A fake ID offense can even carry the possibility of 5 years in prison.
Fake Driver's License
Using a false driver's license, or identity card can be punished by a fine of up to $500, and up to 5 years in prison. It may be prosecuted as a felony offense, complete with a felony conviction on your criminal record. In addition, you may have your real driver's license suspended for up to one year.
It is not only for using a fake ID, but anyone who makes, steals, alters, forges, counterfeits, or assists another person in doing so can be charged with the criminal offense. It does not only apply to driver's licenses, but also to disability placards, registration certificates, or inspection stickers.
For larger scale fake ID operations, whoever makes, steals, forges or counterfeits fake IDs with the intent to distribute them, can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 when it involves more than 10 such documents.
Using a Fake ID to Purchase Liquor
There is a separate provision under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Public Safety and Good Order laws penalizing use of a fake ID. Any person who uses, makes, transfers, alters, defaces, sells, or distributes any ID card or license, is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by imprisonment for up to 3 months, and $200 fine.
Under this law, any person who is discovered by a police officer in the act of violating this provision may be arrested without a warrant and held in custody until a complaint is made, within 24 hours, Sundays and legal holidays excepted. This means that if you are using a fake ID on a Saturday night, and busted by the police, if Monday is a holiday, you may be stuck in jail until Tuesday! All for just trying to buy some beer while underage.
Using a Fake Passport
Many people may not think that there is a big difference between using someone else's driver's license and using their passport to buy alcohol. However, because a passport is a federal identification document, the forgery or false use of a passport is a federal crime.
Whoever falsely uses, makes, forges, mutilates, alters, or furnishes any passport or instrument purporting to be a passport with the intent that it may be used can be imprisoned for up to 10 to 25 years. In the case of a first or second offense, if not committed to facilitate international acts of terrorism or drug trafficking crime, the penalty is up to 10 years, and any fines assessed.
See 18 U.S. Code § 1543 - Forgery or false use of a passport.
Felony Conviction Consequences
If using or making a fake ID results in a felony conviction, this can have long term consequences. A felony conviction can have life-long effects. You may forever lose your ability to hold public office, possess a firearm, and could lose or be denied a professional license such as a lawyer or stockbroker. You may also have to disclose a felony conviction on any job applications, adversely affecting your ability to find and keep a job. It could even prevent you from getting financial aid for college.
Any additional criminal penalties or violations may be charged depending on what the purpose for using a fake ID. For example, if alcohol was purchased, you may be charged with minor in possession of alcohol.
Defenses to Fake ID Charges
There are a number of possible defenses available to charges of possession or use of a fake ID. In some cases, the police may have violated search and seizure protections. However, each case is unique. Boston criminal defense attorneys with experience defending people accused of fake ID charges will conduct an in-depth investigation, and review all available records in order to develop a defense strategy to fight the criminal charges and keep your record clean.
At Dhar Law, LLP, our team of lawyers have years of experience defending clients charged with using a fake ID, altering a driver's license, or other criminal charges. If you or a loved one were caught trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID, or have been charged with false identification charges, you need the support of an experienced team of Boston criminal defense lawyers to make sure your rights are defended in court. Contact our offices today.