What are the Rules for Minors and Fake IDs in California?
The laws surrounding fake identification cards and minors are found in Business and Professions Code 25661. Simply put, it is a crime for a minor to have a false identification card.
Possessing or presenting a fake ID by a minor is a criminal offense that could result in harsh consequences, including losing driving privileges. Under BPC, minors who possess or present false identification can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor offense.
This law applies to people who are under 21 years old. There are two ways that someone can break this law:
- Presenting a fake ID to a business to buy alcohol; or,
- Having a fake ID in their possession.
A fake ID can either be a false identification or an actual identification card of another person. Most of the time, breaking this law means that the person was caught with the fake ID in their hand or within reach.
Typically, the individual accused of this crime was allegedly attempting to use the fake ID to do something that requires a minimum age of 21.
First-time possession of a fake ID by a minor carries a maximum fine of $250 and/or completing up to 32 hours of community service. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic further below.
What Are Some Examples of Prohibited Conduct?
There are many examples of conduct prohibited under this statute. Minors can be charged with a fake ID crime for actions including:
- Being under 21 and using the ID of a friend to buy alcohol;
- Being under 21 and using a fake driver's license to get into a local bar;
- Carrying a second (false) ID that is used to get into nightclubs
Doing any of the above actions can result in a criminal minor fake ID charge. On the issue of “possession, ” most violations of this law involve actual possession where the minor had a fake ID in their hand or pocket.
What are the Potential Penalties?
In California, carrying or using a fake ID is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense that carries no more than one year in jail as a possible punishment.
Prison time is not possible for misdemeanor charges. Prison time is only a potential punishment for felony charges. There are two types of fake ID charges in California, they are:
- Fake ID first offense – maximum fine of $250 and 24-32 hours of community service;
- Fake ID second or subsequent offense – maximum fine of $500 and 36-48 hours of community service.
As noted, there is no jail time for fake ID offenses in the state of California unless there are other related charges that carry the potential of incarceration.
What Are Some Related Offenses?
Related offenses to Business and Professions Code 25661 minor fake ID charges are discussed below:
Allowing a minor in a place where alcohol is consumed is defined under BPC 256655. This California law makes it illegal for minors to be on the property of a business that sells alcohol for use on-site.
The establishment's owner and the minor can be criminally penalized and face a misdemeanor charge under this law. The owner of the establishment can face a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 upon conviction. The minor can face a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $200 but no jail time.
Minor in possession of alcohol is defined under BPC 25662. This California law makes it illegal for minors to possess alcohol in a public place. A public place is a place that is always open to the public, such as a beach or park.
A first offense is an infraction punishable by a $250 fine and 24-32 hours of community service. A second or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and 36-48 hours of community service. Jail is not an option for this charge.
Solicitation sale of alcohol is defined under BPC 25657(a). This law makes it a crime to employ someone to directly solicit the purchase of alcoholic drinks or pay them a commission to sell alcoholic beverages. Other related offenses include:
- BPC 25658(b) – purchase of alcohol by someone under 21,
- Penal Code 470b PC – possession of fake ID,
- Vehicle Code 13004 VC – unlawful use of a fake ID card.
What Are Some Common Defenses to These Charges?
If you are facing a minor fake ID charge, then there are a few potential defenses that can be available to you, including:
- The fake ID was not yours;
- The fake ID was not in your possession or used at the time of the allegation;
- You are not a minor;
- You were not attempting to buy alcohol or gain entry into a bar;
- The police obtained the fake ID as the result of an illegal search.
If one or more of the defenses apply to you, you might be able to avoid a criminal conviction for a minor fake ID charge.
If a Constitutional violation is alleged, the court can potentially dismiss the case after the defense's motion to suppress is filed and argued.
If the court agrees that the police obtained the fake ID due to an illegal search violating the Fourth Amendment, then the evidence can be removed from the case entirely. When this happens, it typically leads to a dismissal of the related charges.
Further, recall that BPC 25661 only applies to minors. Thus, if it can be proven you were 21 or older at the time the offense allegedly happened, then the prosecutor can't convict under this statute, but you could still be charged with another crime.
Also, recall that there must be a fake ID presentation to attempt to buy something, such as alcohol. Perhaps we can make an argument to challenge this element of crime.
If you are a family member facing charges under Business and Professions Code 25661 or a related juvenile crime, contact us to review the details and discuss legal options. Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California. You can contact us for a case review by phone or use the contact form.