California Fake ID Laws
Whether you’ve been falsely accused of using a fake ID or have been busted for using one, it’s important to contact an attorney for help. A strong, aggressive defense is the best way to sidestep those consequences and protect your future. That’s where the experienced attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group can help.
Led by a former state prosecutor, our team is uniquely qualified to help you with your fake ID case. We know what state prosecutors will do to get a conviction. Better yet, we know how to counter them at every turn and give you the best chance of winning. Give our Los Angeles law office a call to arrange a free consultation to learn more.
You Deserve An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
California has some really strict fake ID laws. Violations can carry harsh consequences – including significant time behind bars. The state has undoubtedly already started to build its case against you, so you need to start preparing your defense. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles will help you investigate the circumstances of your arrest, review all the evidence, negotiate with the prosecution, and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
The attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group have over two decades of experience. Founding attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez is a former prosecutor who has handled some of the toughest cases in California– even those involving the Death Penalty. When you hire us to handle your case, you will benefit from having an attorney on your side who understands how these cases are prosecuted. Contact us today for immediate legal assistance.
California Penal Code 470b PC
California’s fake ID law can be found in California Penal Code 470b PC.
The law states that it’s illegal to “display or cause or permit to be displayed or has in [your] possession any driver’s license or identification card…with the intent…to facilitate the commission of any forgery.”
In more straightforward terms, it is a crime to display or possess fake ID with the intent to deceive or defraud another person. Let’s break down what that means.
What is a Fake ID?
In California, Penal Code 470a PC explains that a fake ID is a government-issued identification card that has been:
- Reproduced, or
A fake ID can be a driver’s license or another type of government-issued ID, such as a:
- Military ID
- Social security card, or
- Government employee ID (state or federal).
So, under 470b PC, you can’t be busted for having a fake ID unless the ID in question is issued by (or counterfeited to look like it was issued by) the government. This means that using a school ID or private company ID wouldn’t fall under the umbrella of 470b.
When Might an ID Trigger Criminal Liability Under 470b?
A fake ID is a government card that’s been altered, counterfeited, distorted, or changed in some way. So, an ID might be considered a “fake ID” if:
- A legitimate ID issued by the government has been modified to contain false or inaccurate information
- Legitimate ID cards have been copied, recreated, or reproduced by someone other than a government employee
- An ID card designed to mimic a government-issued ID is created from scratch.
So, anytime that a real ID is changed or an entirely new ID is created with the intent to deceive, it can be considered a fake ID in violation of the law.
You Have to Have Possession of the Fake ID
In order to face criminal charges for having a fake ID, you actually have to have a fake ID. Specifically, you have to possession, display, or cause a fake ID to be displayed. All of those things require some sort of control.
So, what does it mean to possess or control a fake ID? There are two types of possession – actual and constructive. Actual possession means that you have a fake ID in your physical control. It’s in your hands, in your pocket, in the backpack or wallet you’re carrying. It’s on you.
Constructive possession means that the fake ID is in a location that you can exercise control over. This might include your car, a drawer in your house, or even a table in your garage or shed. It might not be in your physical control at the moment, but you know where it is and have the ability to get to it without issue.
You Have to Know the ID is a Fake
Just having a fake ID on you isn’t necessarily enough to warrant criminal charges under 470b PC. Rather, you have to know that the ID is fake or falsified.
So, you can’t be convicted if you didn’t know that your ID wasn’t legitimate or has been altered. If you really believed that the ID you had was real, that is a total and complete defense to criminal liability.
You Have to Intend to Use the Fake ID to Commit a Forgery
Not only do you have to know the ID you have is a fake, but you also have to intend to use it to commit a forgery. In simple terms, this means that you want to use the ID to:
- Deceive someone else
- For the purpose of causing a loss of, or damage to, a legal, financial, or property right.
You don’t actually have to be successful in your efforts to “commit a forgery.” Rather, it just has to be your intent or end game.
Examples of Violations of California’s Fake ID Law
Sometimes examples can really help to illustrate what conduct violates the law and what conduct doesn’t.
Example: Larry, who is 19, wants to buy some beer for a party. His older brother Steve is 21. So, Larry swipes Steve’s ID, opens it up, and changes the photo to one of himself. He’s on his way to the liquor store when he’s pulled over by the police. Even though Larry hadn’t made it to the liquor store yet, he still possessed a fake ID and had the intent to use it to deceive the attendant. He’d be in violation of Penal Code 470b PC.
Example: Sarah got a check in the mail that was addressed to the person who used to live there before her. Rather than return it, she decides that she wants to cash it. So, she asks a friend to create a fake ID for her with the name that’s on the check. She is in possession of a fake ID, has the intent to use it to deceive another person, and is in violation of the law.
What Are the Penalties For Violating California’s Fake ID Law?
In California, possession of a fake ID is a wobbler. This means that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Factors that can influence the charge include your criminal record and the type of forgery you intended to commit.
As a misdemeanor, possession of a fake ID is punishable by a maximum of:
- 1 year in jail
- Community service
- Summary probation, and
- $1,000 in fines.
As a felony, possession of a fake ID is punishable by a maximum of:
- 3 years in a state prison
- Community service
- Formal probation, and
- $10,000 in fines.
Getting arrested for having a fake ID in California can also have adverse consequences for your driving privileges. The state can revoke your license for up to 12 months or, if you’re not old enough to drive yet, make you wait an extra year to apply.
How Can I Defend Myself If I’m Accused of Having a Fake ID in California?
Just because you’re accused of having a fake ID or charged with a crime doesn’t mean that your future is over. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. It’s the government that has the burden of proving that you’ve broken the law. And, prosecutors have to make such a good argument to persuade a jury that there is no reasonable doubt that you’re innocent. That’s a high burden and a tough job.
You can make the state’s job even more difficult by asserting a strong, aggressive defense. When you hire the experienced legal team at the Rodriguez Law Group, that’s what you can expect us to do on your behalf. Our founding attorney is a former prosecutor. So, he really knows how to analyze the state’s case, find weaknesses, and leverage those in your favor.
In addition to attacking the state’s case, we’ll raise any legitimate argument that can be used in your defense. This might include:
- You didn’t know you possessed a fake ID
- You knew you possessed a fake ID, but had no intent to use it to commit a forgery
- You weren’t in actual or constructive possession of the ID
- You were using the fake ID because someone else threatened or coerced you to do so, or
- Your constitutional rights have been violated in some way (e.g., unlawful arrest, illegal search and seizure).
The more we can cast doubt on your guilt, offer justifications, or attack the state’s case, the better your chances of securing a positive result. So, we’ll do everything in our power to help you do just that.
Schedule a Call With Our Los Angeles Fake ID Defense Lawyers
Have you recently been caught with a fake ID in Los Angeles, CA? Contact the Rodriguez Law Group for immediate assistance. The only way to protect yourself and minimize the consequences of your arrest is through a strong defense. We can help. Give us a call today to arrange a free consultation and learn more.