Young kids who make and use fake IDs, particularly to buy alcohol or tobacco products, may assume they are committing a harmless offense. However, New York State considers having a fake ID to be a serious crime. Getting caught with a fake ID can result in prison time and a possible criminal record.
What Are the Penalties for Having Fake ID in NY?
Criminal possession of a fake ID is a violation of PL 170.25, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. This is a class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in state prison. Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree (170.20) is a class A misdemeanor offense with a possible sentence of up to 1 year in jail, probation for 3 years, and a fine of up to $1,000.
If a fake ID contains the name and other information belonging to a real person—or if the person is caught using another person’s legitimate ID—he/she can be charged with criminal impersonation, PL 190.25, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
In addition to criminal charges, a person can also be charged under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 509-6 if they “possess or use any forged, fictitious or illegally obtained license, or use any license belonging to another person.” Under this statute, a person can be fined between $75 and $300 (plus a surcharge of either $88 or $93) and be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail.
A person convicted under this statute can also have his/her license revoked for between 90 days and 1 year. A person who enters a plea relating to 509-6 will receive a notice from the DMV informing him/her of the right to a hearing on the matter. The hearing offers an opportunity to avoid losing one’s license, which is why it is important to hire an attorney to handle any and all charges related to using a fake ID in NY.
Is it Against the Law to Buy a Fake ID?
Technically it is not illegal to purchase a fake ID in New York. However, it is a felony offense to produce or sell a fake ID.
What If I Lend My Driver’s License to Another Person?
A person who lends another his/her driver’s license can also be charged under VTL 509-6. As with the person caught using someone else’s ID, lending out a NYS driver’s license can result in a fine of $75 to $300, plus up to 15 days in jail and a license suspension of at least 90 days.
What Should I Do If I Am Caught with a Fake ID?
Any person who is caught with a fake ID must make use of his/her Miranda right to remain silent. In other words, don’t say anything! This is true even if one is caught by someone other than a police officer (e.g. a bouncer or liquor store cashier). After all, the individual who recognizes the ID as fake may be inclined to call the police later, and anything said to the aforementioned individual can be reiterated to police and used against the accused.
If a person is caught with a fake ID and the police get involved, then it is imperative that he/she contact a criminal defense attorney right away for help. Whether a person is charged under the traffic law statute or the criminal statute, there can be serious consequences should he/she be convicted.
Defenses to Getting Caught with a Fake ID
The exact defense will depend on which statute one is charged under and the circumstances of the arrest. For example, NYPL 170.20 and 170.25 require proof that the person who possessed the fake ID intended to use it to deceive another person. This is not a hard burden to meet, especially if the person was caught using the ID to get into a bar or club. However, if the ID was discovered on one’s person and one can demonstrate that it had not been presented or used in any particular circumstances, then the charge can be beaten.
The same is not true of VTL 509-6. This statute merely requires a person to “possess” a fake ID; intent to defraud does not need to be proven. However, in some cases, it may be possible to ensure that the prosecution is unable to prove possession.
Why Someone Caught with a Fake ID in NY Should Hire an Attorney
As mentioned above, getting caught with a fake ID can result in serious consequences which can include jail time, fines, and either a license revocation or possible criminal record. With the help of a skilled attorney, however, it may be possible to mitigate or avoid the most serious consequences. An attorney will be able to look at the facts of the case to determine the best possible defense strategy. The right attorney will know if any evidence was gathered in a manner that was unlawful and prevent it from being used against the defendant. In some cases, the best strategy may be to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges to a lesser offense; in such situations, having an experienced attorney can ensure that one gets the best possible deal.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or your child is caught using a fake ID in New York, you need the advice of an experienced attorney right away. At Rosenblum Law, our expert attorneys have the knowledge and skills to fight for your rights and avoid the most serious consequences. E-mail or call today at 888-979-7551.