Possession of a fake driver's license or identification card is covered under California Penal Code Section 470b. In basic terms, it's a crime to display or possess a fake driver's license or an identification card with intent to commit fraud or a forgery.
PC 470b also includes any type of government-issued identification card that has been altered or forged in any manner. It's important to note the fake ID does not have to be used to be charged with a crime, meaning simple possession is sufficient for a conviction.
A fake ID is described as a driver's license or other type of identification card that has been falsified, altered, duplicated, reproduced, counterfeited, or forged. Under PC 470b, the intent to commit fraud means you had the intent to use the fake ID to deceive or commit fraud.
In Los Angeles County, there are many common examples where individuals could face criminal charges for possessing or displaying a fake identification. For example, minors often possess a fake ID in an attempt to purchase alcohol.
Another common example includes a situation where someone attempts to use a fake Identification in order to cash a check in another person's name. Fake identification cards are also sometimes used by illegal immigrants to avoid arrest by police or to obtain state benefits.
Penal Code Section 470b in known as a “wobbler,” which means the prosecutor can file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. Their decision on how to file the charges is typically based on the specific circumstances of your case and prior criminal record. A misdemeanor conviction will carry up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you are facing allegations of possessing or displaying a fake identification, call the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP to review the details. Let's take a closer look at the legal definitions below.
Legal Definition of Possessing Fake Identification
California Penal Code Section 470b legally defines possessing or displaying a fake identification as follows:
Anyone who alters, falsifies, forges, duplicates, counterfeits, reproduces a driver's license or government issued identification card with the intent to commit fraud or forgery is guilty of a misdemeanor crime.
There are a wide variety of common fake identification cards that are included in the legal definition under Penal Code 470b. These include:
- State driver's license
- State identification card
- Social Security card
- Student identification card
- United States Passport
- State or Federal employee identification card
- Military identification card
As stated above, it's important to note that you don't have to actually use a fake ID to be charged under PC 470b. By law, possession is sufficient. This means if you have actual possession of a fake ID or just simple control of it, you could face criminal charges.
Elements of the Crime
In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction for possession of a fake identification under California Penal Code Section 470b, they must be able to prove all the elements of the crime. These include the following:
- You possessed or displayed a driver's license or identification card
- The driver's license or ID card was altered, forged, duplicated, or counterfeit
- You knew the driver's license or ID card had been altered or forged
- You had intent to use the fake ID to commit fraud or forgery
It should be noted that the most common form of fake ID used in Los Angeles County is a California driver's license that was issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The legal definition of possession or displaying a fake ID includes the terms altered, falsified, forged, duplicated, reproduced, or counterfeited. This includes many ways to possess a fake ID. For example, a real driver's license that was modified to include a fake date of birth. It also includes fake identification cards that are were duplicated or reproduced.
Legal Penalties for Possession of Fake ID
As stated above, possession of a fake driver's license or identification under California Penal Code Section 470b is a “wobbler.” What does that mean? It means the Los Angeles County prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
They will base their decision on the specific accusations and your criminal history. If you are convicted on a misdemeanor case of possessing or displaying a fake ID, you will face the following legal penalties:
- Up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail
- A fine up to $1,000
- Misdemeanor summary probation
If you are convicted on a felony case of possessing or displaying a fake ID, the legal penalties include:
- 16 months, 2 or 3 years in a Los Angels County jail
- A fine up to $10,000
- Formal felony probation
It should be noted it's very common for minors in Los Angeles to possess a fake ID in an attempt to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. In these types of cases, the case will be handled in the Los Angeles County juvenile court system.
- California Penal Code Section 470a – Forging a License or ID Card
- California Penal Code Section 470 - Forgery
- California Penal Code Section 472 – Forgery of Public Seals
- California Vehicle Code 14610 – Unlawful Use of Driver's License
- California Vehicle Code 13004 – Unlawful Use of ID Cards
Defenses for Possession of Fake ID
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have different options to defend you against possession of a fake driver's license or identification card. Each case will require a thorough review of the facts of the case. The most common legal defenses against accusation of violating California Penal Code Section 470b include the following:
You didn't know the identification was fake or altered – One of the key elements of the crime listed above is that the prosecutor has to prove you knew the ID was fake or had been altered. Furthermore, this must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. In some cases, our criminal lawyers might be able to cast doubt you had knowledge you were in possession of a fake ID.
No intent to commit forgery or fraud – Again, intent to commit forgery or fraud is contained in the elements of the crime. As stated above, you can still be found guilty of possession or displaying a fake identification even in cases where you never actually used it.
However, the Los Angeles County prosecutor still has to prove you had intent to unlawfully use it. In some cases, our attorneys might be able to argue there is not sufficient evidence to prove you specifically intended to use the fake identification.
If you have been accused of possession or displaying a fake driver's license or government issued identification card in violation of California Penal Code Section 470b, call the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP. Let's us complete a review of all the details of your case in order to determine the best strategy for best possible outcome. Contact our law firm at 877-781-1570. We are located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.