This discussion will review Fake ID cases in Los Angeles County, as well as some approaches and strategies. While, historically, these cases were handled less-formally, there are now many direct and collateral consequences which flow from court proceedings, which can have long-lasting consequences in the future, including: conviction related to dishonesty, loss of employment opportunity, and DMV driver's license suspension. Legal representation is strongly recommended if you are facing a Fake ID case.
Because California state law includes many types of regulation, Fake ID cases may be pursued at felony, misdemeanor and infraction levels, depending on the circumstances, law enforcement agency preference, and officer discretion. Location of the incident, as well as the prosecution and court jurisdiction are extremely important factors in how these cases proceed, & should form the basis of your defense strategies.
Common Los Angeles Fake ID violations include:
1. Penal Code section 472, relating to a “False Government Seal,” felony or misdemeanor level;
2. Penal Code section 529.5(c), Possession of Fraudulent ID, misdemeanor;
3. Vehicle Code section 14610(a), Unlawful Use of a Driver’s License, misdemeanor; and,
4. Business and Professions Code 25661(a), Possession of False Identification, misdemeanor or infraction.
In my experience, I have found a tendency at some smaller LA County law enforcement agencies to initiate these cases at a more serious level, for statistical reasons. Local prosecutors, as well as judges, however, may consider alternative solutions on a case by case basis. Your Fake ID Attorney should explore a wide range of possible creative solutions to your case.
The underlying causes of Fake ID cases vary. Someone may obtain a Fake ID because of a suspended driver’s license, warrant, or desire to hide his or her true identity. Most other Los Angeles cases involve teenagers obtaining Fake IDs to appear 21 years of age, or older, to gain access to nightclubs or attempt to purchase alcohol.
Convictions of Fake ID charges may be considered crimes of moral turpitude or dishonesty, and can result in driver’s license suspensions, court probation, large fines, possible jail, and barriers to future gainful employment and state professional licenses. Therefore, all possible consequences should be carefully evaluated by a Fake ID Attorney in Los Angeles, prior to any resolution.
Common Fake ID Scenario
A common scenario for a Fake ID case in Los Angeles involves a college student (under 21 years old), perhaps just moved away from home to attend a California school. He or she wants to fit in with new friends, and has new-found independence. The other friends have Fake IDs indicating “Age 21,” which allows access to nightclubs or bars, or the ability to purchase alcoholic beverages. The new student then obtains a Fake ID for the same purposes.
Los Angeles bar employees and store clerks understand that they can be charged criminally if they serve or sell alcohol to someone under 21 years old, even if the purchaser provides identification, so there is a tendency towards scrutiny in alcohol transactions. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the state law enforcement agency responsible for regulating “under-age” alcohol sales, commonly uses “sting” operations to find these violations in Los Angeles. Clerks and bar employees know this. Thus, when a youthful appearing person attempts to provide an ID to gain entry to a bar or purchase alcohol, business employees tend to carefully analyze details of the ID, looking for anomalies or other signs of fraud. Clerks also tend to ask specific questions to the ID holder, to evaluate the circumstances. Fake ID cases are thus initiated by businesses contacting police, as well as based on observations by ABC and other police agencies in field enforcement.
Strategies in Fake ID Cases
I believe that early intervention in Fake ID cases can be extremely effective, as you will read, below.
Frankly speaking, prosecutors and law enforcement officers were once teenagers, themselves, subject to moments of less than perfect judgment. Many of them had Fake IDs during their teens, as well, for similar purposes. To some degree, Fake ID cases were handled more informally 10-20 years ago, and life moved forward without extensive intervention. Because of a break which government officials may have received as teenagers, police officers and prosecutors will sometimes take a closer look at a Fake ID case, to consider creative solutions or recommendations.
If my client with a Fake ID case is a college student with good grades, a promising future, and no previous criminal history, I am going to vigorously lobby for court alternatives at every step of the process, based on the overall good character of the client. Because of the substantial consequences of convictions of this type, I want to impress upon the government decision-makers of available choices, including, Pre-Filing Diversion, APPS, Office Hearings, and Pre-Plea Diversion. I also like to provide examples to these decision-makers of how damaging a conviction can be, including a situation of which I am aware, where an expunged infraction conviction of Business and Professions Code 25661, False ID, resulted in denial of gainful employment of a young person more than three years after conviction.
In the Los Angeles Court system, there tends to be a focus on the most serious cases. If a DA is provided significant information about a promising college student with a Fake ID case, it will likely receive consideration for reasonable creative alternatives presented by defense counsel. I prepare each client’s case to the degree that I am confident it meets standards for alternative consideration.
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