Using a Fake ID in Massachusetts – Not a Big Deal? Think Again!
Using a Fake ID is Illegal in Massachusetts
Summer is upon us. It’s a great time of year to go to clubs and concerts. It’s tough being 19 or 20 years old though, when you’re left behind by your 21 year old friends as they head out to experience the Boston nightlife. The easy solution – a fake ID. The chances of getting caught seem slim, and they are easy and not too expensive to obtain. Using a fake ID is easy to justify because “everyone else has one” and even if your parents know, they don’t seem to get overly upset. It will also be useful to take back to college in September.
Our advice: think again! There are serious criminal consequences in Massachusetts for offenses involving false identification cards, and police are very aggressive in detecting and prosecuting these offenses. It is against the law in Massachusetts to falsely make or alter a driver’s license or other forms of identification. This offense is a felony, with possible punishment of 5 years in prison. A felony conviction has serious permanent ramifications and can affect eligibility for financial aid as well as the right to vote or to possess a firearm. It is also a criminal offense to use or carry a false identification card. The simple act of using or carrying a fake ID can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by imprisonment of not more than three months and a fine of not more than $200.
Now, let’s consider reality. Is it likely that a teenager will actually go to jail for using a false identification card? Of course not. However, he may be summoned to appear in court with the result that the charge will appear on his criminal record, with negative implications for future employment.
The main consequence that should get the attention of any teenager is the impact on his driver’s license if caught using a fake ID. Even if a car was not involved in the offense, most police departments will report any arrests for false identification offenses to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Registry is required to suspend the driver’s license of any person convicted of making or altering a driver’s license for one year. If the charge is for using or carrying a false identification card, the Registry may suspend the driver’s license for 180 days, even if there is not a conviction.
Offenses involving false identification cards are serious. Ask any teenager who has been through the process what it was like to be without a license for six months. Getting into a club for one night seems hardly worth the risk of serious criminal consequences and the inconvenience of being without transportation.
If you have the unfortunate experience of being charged with a false identification offense, call a lawyer. There are things that can be done to avoid many of these consequences, but it is critical to intervene at the earliest possible stage.
Written by Jeffrey Sankey