Fake IDs have a long history for teenagers in America, from sitcom plots to McLovin punch lines, but they often leave out the legal aftermath. A fake ID is a fake government document, not just a membership card to purchase beer or, in Colorado, marijuana.
And forging government documents is a big deal.
In a society that’s obsessed with identity protection and knowledge of who is crossing international borders, having a fake identification card is more than just a ticket to buy an age-restricted product, even if that was your intended use.
Fake IDs have long been common for buying alcohol and the industry is closely regulated, especially in tourist-heavy ski towns where out of state IDs are common. With the new marijuana legalization unique to the state, most are taking an even closer look.
Your fake ID may have felt anonymous, but the ticket and penalties incurred come in your name, not the one on your fake.
There are three levels of charges when caught in possession of or trying to use a fake ID: municipal, or city charges, and also state charges – including the potential to be tried for a felony. In Breckenridge, the punishment could be a $500 fine and 6 months in jail. The state of Colorado calls for a maximum fine of $1,000 and one year in jail. Depending on the type of fake ID and your background, there are sometimes felony charges.
It’s true that youth rarely get a maximum penalty, especially if you have a clean record, but with fake IDs so prevalent around college campuses, many courts have set out to make an example of the arrested. Depending on cooperation levels, many police departments and courts give the opportunity to get a minimal punishment but you have to respond quickly.
The plea is a way for offenders to learn that a fake ID has larger consequences. For those who don’t follow the program, the penalties get stiffer. If you’re charged and don’t show up to court, that’s not just a guilty plea; it’s a way to end up with a felony charge that will haunt your record and damage your chance to get into the right college or get the right job later on. A fake ID felony is fraud, which is among the more incriminating crimes on a permanent record.
Most of the time, if you’re caught with a fake ID you’re caught red-handed. Your photo is right there on the evidence and it’s hard to ignore that fact. While law enforcement is making examples out of the issue, it doesn’t have to be a charge that threatens your future. By working with an attorney your charges will be reduced, maybe even kept off record. If you try to go against the court on your own, you could wind up on the wrong side of a sentence not just with jail time, but also with a criminal record that’s far more costly than the fine.