How to Avoid Spending Spring Break in Prison

March 1, 2017 · by igniweb · in

Photo courtesy Drew Stephens via Flickr.

Ah, Spring Break! This time-honored college tradition offers a much-needed break from studying. It’s a great opportunity for kids to kick back and party — including, in many cases, a lot of drinking. Given the age of most college kids, it’s also an opportunity to break in a fake, stolen, or borrowed ID. (I’m looking at you, “McLovin.”) Unfortunately, this can have serious consequences.

Under New Jersey law, a fake ID can result in one of two possible charges: possessing a false document or presenting a false document. Simply having a fake ID — defined as document that misrepresents your age and identity — is considered possession. This is a fourth-degree crime that carries a punishment of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if you show (or present) the ID to someone, whether a police officer or a bouncer at a bar, that is a third-degree crime. If convicted, you could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

“No problem,” you think, “I’ll just borrow (or swipe) my older brother’s license; we look a lot alike.” This isn’t a solution, though, as it can also result in criminal charges. Any attempt to impersonate another individual to obtain a service (such as access to a bar or alcohol) is considered identity theft in New Jersey. This is true whether the ID is real or fake.

The consequences vary depending on the cost of the goods or services. In most instances, where the cost is under $500, you would be charged with a fourth-degree crime, which can result in up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If you’re a real high roller and spend between $501 and $75,000, you can be charged with a third-degree crime. In that case, you would face up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

In general, you’ll only get hit with one of the above charges. If you presented a fake ID, for example, you are not likely to also get charged with possessing a false document as that could be construed as double jeopardy. The exception would be if you had a second set of false documents on you. Likewise, if you are caught using another person’s ID, it’s you are not going to face charges for a presenting false document in addition to identity theft. The exception here would be if you showed a fake ID with information of an actual person.

Let’s not forget that most students use fake IDs because they are under the legal drinking age. That means that, on top of any other charges, you could also face consequences for underage drinking. This is a disorderly person’s charge and carries a fine of $500 to $1,000, plus up to six months in jail.

In addition to derailing your education, a conviction for one or more of these crimes could also have a lasting negative impact on your career. If you or your child has been arrested for possession or presenting a fake ID, identity theft, underage drinking, or any other criminal offense in New Jersey, contact an attorney for help before it’s too late. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.