Can Possession of a Fake ID Land You in Jail?

While most people think of possession of a fake ID as a harmless crime, Los Angeles prosecutors view the possession of a fake ID as serious business. According to California Penal Code section 470b, possessing or displaying a fake ID is a crime in California. The criminal law definition of a “fake ID” is any government-issued driver’s license or identification card (US passport, Social Security card, or US military card) that has been counterfeited, reproduced, duplicated, forged, altered, or falsified.

Here are examples of situations in which a person might have a fake ID:

  • A person involved in an identity theft scheme may use fake IDs to pass checks written in the name of people whose identities have been stolen
  • An undocumented immigrant may possess a fake ID to avoid detection by authorities or harassment by police
  • A minor or college student may attempt to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol.

Prosecuting a Fake ID Crime

In order to successfully convict an individual accused of using a fake ID, these elements must be proven:

  • The accused person possessed or displayed a driver’s license or government-issued ID card
  • The driver’s license or ID card was counterfeited, reproduced, duplicated, forged, altered, or falsified
  • The accused person knew the license or ID card was not authentic
  • The accused person, in possessing or displaying the license or card, intended to use it to commit forgery (deceiving another person in order to cause a loss or damage to a legal, financial, or property right.)

Penalties for Possession or Display of a Fake ID

If you are caught with a fake ID in Los Angeles, you could face serious penalties. Depending on the circumstances, this crime could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to a year in county jail. For a felony offense, a convicted individual may face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a state prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years.

Legal Defenses

Just because you have been accused of a crime does not mean you are guilty. You have a right to fight your charges. An attorney may apply one of the following defenses in your case in pursuit of a dismissal or reduction of charges:

  • You weren’t actually the person in possession of the fake ID
  • You didn’t intend to use the ID to commit fraud
  • You didn’t know that the driver’s license or ID was fraudulent.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys with 50+ Years of Experience

If you, your child, or someone you know is charged with possessing or displaying a fake ID, contact the experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. We have over 70 years of combined criminal law experience. It is critical to speak to one of our attorneys immediately after the fake ID has been confiscated and before you are questioned by law enforcement. We have helped many people in similar situations. We will fight to keep you out of jail, and do what is necessary to potentially have the charges dismissed or reduced.

Schedule a free and confidential consultation and learn about your legal options.

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