If you are a student at a Pittsburgh area college, including the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University or Point Park University, you probably know people who have fake IDs — or you have one yourself.
Bar owners know how easy it is to obtain a fake ID and how prevalent very genuine-appearing IDs have become. Under pressure to avoid citations and heavy fines issued by Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, they make it a priority for their bouncers and bartenders to screen out underage drinkers.
If you are caught trying to buy a drink using false identification, the ramifications can be frightening and you may feel their negative impact for years to come.
Fake ID Penalties
If you are 18 to 20 and charged with trying to use a fake ID, the risks are:
- You will have to appear in court
- Your parents will be notified If convicted, you will have to pay a fine
- Your driver’s license may be suspended
- You can be sentenced to as many as 90 days in jail
- You may be burdened with a criminal record
How A Criminal Record Will Complicate Your Life
Having a criminal record is probably the most devastating consequence of a fake ID conviction. As soon as you are given a citation, the charges will appear on your record.
If you are job hunting in today’s competitive market, you will immediately feel the negative repercussions of a criminal record. Potential employers who run a background check will see your conviction and be less likely to hire you, particularly if you are interviewing for a job as a doctor, lawyer, police officer or pharmacist. A criminal record can make it harder for you to obtain a student loan. If you are applying for graduate school, a criminal record will weigh against you with admissions officers.
If you’re facing a charge after being caught with a fake ID, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A criminal conviction can have lasting impacts on your life. Our attorneys have years of experience defending underage charges. Learn how we may defend your rights today.
What The Law Says About Using Fake IDs
If you or your child is under the age of 21, it is illegal to:
- possess an identification card falsely identifying yourself by name, age, date of birth or photograph as being 21 years of age or older or,
- obtain or attempts to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages by using the identification card of another or,
- use an identification card that has not been lawfully issued to you.
If you are convicted of this law you are facing:
- a license suspension of 90 days, 1 year, or 2 years depending on how prior offenses you have, and
- up to a $500 fine, and
- a record of criminal conduct that employers and schools will see if they look.
Keep in mind that the police department making an arrest for a suspected violation must notify the parents or guardian of the minor charged.
In Pennsylvania it is also illegal to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly manufacture, make, alter, sell or attempt to sell an identification card falsely representing the identity, birth date or age of another.
If you are convicted of this law you are facing:
- 18 or Older – a mandatory fine of not less than $1,000 for the first violation and a fine of not less than $2,500 for each subsequent violation.
- 17 or Younger – a mandatory fine of $500 for the first conviction and a fine of $1,000 for each subsequent conviction.
Next Steps if You Are Charged with Possessing, Manufacturing, or Selling a Fake ID
If you, or your college-aged child, have been charged with using a fake ID, your first step should be to immediately hire a juvenile crimes lawyer. Before your hearing is even scheduled, an experienced defense attorney can begin negotiations with police or prosecutors to have your charges dismissed or reduced.
Whether you have retained an attorney or not, you will need to plead not guilty as soon as possible. You can do this by marking your citation as not guilty, signing your name, and then mailing it back to the magistrate’s office along with a check for the collateral fee (usually $50).
If you hire an attorney, he or she can take care of the paperwork for you and the collateral fee will not be necessary.
About two weeks after you are charged, the magistrate’s office will send you a notice with the date for your hearing
Fighting Fake ID Charges
If you or your child are arrested, your defense attorney will work behind the scenes to have the charges dismissed or lowered, and the fines reduced. Your lawyer will be at your side when you appear in court. If there are witnesses brought in to try and prove your guilt, your lawyer will question them closely to determine the accuracy of their memory and challenge their recall. He or she can also ensure that more serious charges are not brought against you later. If your case is dismissed, you will be eligible to have your criminal record cleared (expunged). Your attorney can take the necessary steps to help you in this process.