California Criminal law on Fake ID”s

Possession or Displaying a Fake Identification Card or Driver’s License

Possession or displaying a fake, altered, or counterfeit government-issued identification card (ID) or driver’s license (DL) is prohibited under California Penal Code §470b, and may be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of your case and/or criminal record.

Unlike CA PC §470a, which prohibits falsifying, altering, or counterfeiting a DL or ID, the crime of possessing or displaying does not require the Prosecutor to prove that the defendant actually altered or faked an ID or DL. Conviction under CA PC §470b Possessing or Displaying a Fake ID Or DL may have some serious consequences – Speaking with a San Diego criminal lawyer experienced in Fake ID or Driver’s License matters is critical to securing the best possible outcome in your case.

Common Examples of Possessing or Displaying a Fake ID or DL:
• Being younger than 18 years old and using a “fake” ID or DL to purchase cigarettes or porno;
• Being younger than 21 years old and using a “fake” ID or DL to purchase alcohol, or to enter clubs or bars where alcohol is served;
• Possessing a fake ID or DL to hide the fact that you have a warrant out for your arrest, or to hide your status as an undocumented or illegal alien in the US.

Elements of Possessing or Displaying a Fake ID or DL:

To be convicted of this crime under CA PC §470b, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (CALCRIM No. 1921):

1. You possessed or displayed (or caused it to happen) a Driver’s License or Government issued ID;
i. You may hold or possess something without actually physically touching it – controlling or having the right to control the thing is considered possession, even if not in your actual possession.

2. The DL or ID was altered, faked, copied, counterfeited, or forged;
i. A person alters a document if they add to, delete, or change a part of the document that affects another’s legal, financial, or property rights.
ii. A person counterfeits a document if they change, manipulate, or imitate an item intending to pass it off as a genuine document.
iii. A person forges a document if they intentionally alter, manipulate, or create a document to derive an unlawful personal benefit (see CA PC §470).

3. You knew that the DL or ID was modified, faked, copied, or forged; AND

4. When you possessed or displayed such DL or ID, you intended to commit forgery by doing so.
i. A person intends to commit a forgery where they use a forged, modified, faked, or copied document (including an ID or DL) to cause another to suffer loss of or damage to a financial, property, or legal right.
ii. There is no requirement that another be actually defrauded or actually suffer damage to their financial, property, or legal rights as a result of your actions.Note: you can be punished for possessing or displaying ANY fake ID or DL, even non-California IDs and DLs.

San Diego criminal attorney George Gedulin on fake ID Laws: “We have had numerous clients from high-school and college who have been arrested for trying to use a fake-ID at a local bar. Many clients tell us they thought the bouncer would simply take the ID and there would be no further consequences. That is not always the case and often a person does get arrested and charged for this offense.”

Consequences of Conviction:

Possessing or displaying a fake ID or DL may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor (“wobblers”) based on the facts of the case and your criminal history, if any.

If convicted of Misdemeanor Possessing or Displaying Fake ID or DL under CA PC §470b, you may be punished by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If convicted of Felony §470b Possessing or Displaying Fake ID or DL, you may be punished by up to 3 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you are charged with Possessing or Displaying a Fake ID or Driver’s License, talk to a Criminal Attorney in San Diego experienced in such matters to handle your case competently and efficiently.

Common Defenses:

There are several defenses to Possessing/Displaying a Fake ID/DL. Common defenses include:

• You didn’t know the ID/DL was fake;
o This is commonly used where a foreigner is not accustomed to only being able to obtain official government documents from government agencies. The Prosecutor must be able to prove your knowledge of its falsity beyond a reasonable doubt.

• You didn’t intend to commit a forgery;
o The Prosecutor must prove your intent to commit a forgery (see above, under Elements) beyond a reasonable doubt. Possessing a false ID or DL without intending to commit a forgery is not punishable under CA PC §470b.

• You didn’t possess the Fake ID/DL.
o Common examples include a third party leaving a fake ID or DL at your house, in your car, or in your wallet without your knowledge, and where you don’t own that document.

Conviction for this crime and any related or lesser-included offenses (listed below) may affect your eligibility for employment and government benefits, as well as other personal rights. To obtain efficient, comprehensive, and zealous representation in your criminal matter, speak with a Criminal Lawyer in San Diego knowledgeable in Fake ID/DL cases to discuss your situation.

Related and Lesser-Included Offenses:

• CA Penal Code §470a – Falsifying, Altering, or Counterfeiting a Driver’s License
• CA Vehicle Code §14610 – Possessing an Altered Driver’s License
• CA Penal Code §472 – Forgery of a Government, Public, or Corporate Seal