YOUR FAMILY & THE LAW: The Truth about Teens and Fake IDs
According to a recent report in the Arizona Republic, Tempe police seized more than 2,000 fake ID’s in 2010 in their effort to crack down on underage drinking. This sobering fact tells a disturbing story indeed -- that in pursuit of an alcoholic drink or admission to an over 21 night club, our children, particularly older teens, are deliberately defying laws which they grossly underestimate. It’s one thing to receive a misdemeanor “Minor in Consumption” charge, the typical citation for underage drinkers, but it’s quite another to be charged with the much more serious violation of Identify Theft and Impersonation as the result of using a fake ID.
The use of fake ID’s in Arizona is rampant. The presence of so many illegal immigrants in our state fuels a robust industry of fake ID manufacturers. The technologies used by these counterfeiters range from crude to expert, and depending upon the quality of the machinery used to produce them, many fake ID’s can and do avoid detection. Typically though, teens wind up with the inferior kind of fake ID’s that can be easily detected by a trained cashier, restaurant server or bouncer. More expensive fakes ranging in price from $65 to $150 can be purchased through the internet. A teen simply supplies the manufacturer with their name, address, height, weight, photo and signature. State ID’s and drivers licenses from all 50 states are for sale to anyone with the money to pay for them, and because the manufacture of fake ID’s is illegal, many of these online fraud shops are hosted on servers located outside the United States.
When it comes to prosecuting the use of fake ID’s in Arizona, county prosecutors have a number of laws to choose from. If a person changes or alters an officially issued piece of identification like a driver’s license, he or she could be charged with Tampering with a Public Record (ARS §13-2407) which is a Class 6 Felony punishable by a year or more in prison. If a person uses a fake ID to assume a false identity or pretend to be someone or some age that they are not, in order to obtain something (alcohol, cigarettes, admission to an age restricted venue) from the person they are deceiving, the charge can be Criminal Impersonation (ARS §13-2006) which is a Class 4 felony, even more serious than the tampering charge. An additional Felony 4 charge of Forgery (ARS §13-2002) could also be filed, separately or in conjunction with the previous two, bringing the potential consequences to more than 6 years in prison.
Typically, as the Arizona Republic article states, teens caught attempting to use fake ID’s are turned away from their attempted deception, given a stern warning and the counterfeited items are confiscated, turned over to police and noted. The mere presentation of a fake ID however, can result in a charge or fine. It’s when teens succeed in deceiving others through the use of fake ID’s, actually purchasing alcohol or cigarettes, or gaining entrance into an age restricted venue, that the chances of criminal charges dramatically increase. Also, in those cases, the permitting parties -- the cashier who sold the alcohol, the club owner and server -- can be found charged with serious offenses and suffer severe fines and penalties.
The closer teens are in age to 18 or 21, the more likely they’ll attempt to obtain a fake ID. If you think your child might think “it’s no big deal” or “everyone’s got one”, you might try to remind them that Forgery, Criminal Impersonation and Tampering with a Pubic Record are fancy terms for a “very big deal” according to the state of Arizona.
Your Family and the Law is written by Claudia Gilburd, Founder of Teen Law School, Inc.™ for the clients and friends of Davis Miles Law Firm. Teen Law School, Inc.™ delivers seminars that teach teens what they need to know about Arizona law, skills for resisting peer pressure and information about protecting their legal rights as minors. To learn more about Teen Law School seminars or to register your teen, please email email@example.com or call 480-584-3692.