Faking It: Is Age Really Just a Number?

October 7, 2021 College, College Student Disciplinary Hearing, Criminal Defense

It’s that time of year again. School is back in session, and freshly graduated high school students walk onto their new university campus bright-eyed and ready for a new adventure. The first few weeks include a plethora of welcoming parties, group get togethers, and events to get students comfortable and situated. It probably takes about a week to meet your first friend. Then what? The weekend rolls around, and it’s time to go out for the very first time.

Whether you’re at a big campus like FSU or a smaller school like Rollins, every university has its “spots” for going out. For Tallahassee students, that’s on the corner of College Avenue and Macomb Street. For FSU students, Potbelly’s is often the first real taste of college night life. Waiting in line and approaching the bouncer for the first time is probably an exciting, but nerve-wracking feeling. When you hand him over the ID, he scrutinizes it for a few seconds longer than you’d like. One glance up, glance back down.

“This isn’t you,” the large, burly man says firmly.

You stutter a bit, unsure of what to say or how to go about the situation. What he very quickly realized was that—it’s not you. Your new roommate swore to you that fake ID’s are used all the time to get into the college bars, and that he had already been using one all summer without a problem. Sure, the picture didn’t look that much like you—now thinking about it, it couldn’t be more different. Yet if everyone was doing it and using fake ID’s, surely it wouldn’t be a problem. Almost everyone you’ve met under 21 years-old goes to bars that are 21+, so they have clearly found a successful way to use fake ID’s. You had heard of people using their older sibling’s ID, purchasing an old ID off an older student, or even figuring out a way to forge a completely new one with their own picture but with a different birthday. If everyone was doing it, they couldn’t get every single person at the bar in trouble, right?

An hour later you’re standing in the bar parking lot next to a police car, going over the situation again with an officer. Every time you see people look over at you from the bar, you wince with embarrassment. First time going out. First weekend on campus. The cop is explaining all the consequences of trying to use a fake ID but you’re having a hard time keeping up with any of the information. When he asked your name and age, you panicked and said the information of the guy on the ID card, the one you spent the whole Uber ride over trying to remember. But you stumbled halfway through, and the cop could easily detect the lie.

Now the cop is explaining what the penalty is for falsely identifying yourself to a police officer. He then confiscates the ID and starts to look it up. “Did you know this was a stolen driver’s license?” He asks pointedly. You shake your head repeatedly, wondering just how much worse this night can get. I don’t even know what a felony is, you think to yourself. Now he’s making you contact your parents, who are obviously furious that you could do something so stupid within such a short amount of time. Trying not to think about your classes you just started, your sports scholarship you barely nabbed to get into FSU in the first place. Instead, you have to look for a defense attorney and figure out how to not let this completely ruin your plans for the next four years. 

Well, this isn’t what you anticipated. Who would have thought one mistake of using a fake ID would turn everything completely upside down?

The Reality of Fake ID’s – A Wake up Call to College Students

Let’s be honest, there are a few different ways the above scenario can go. Best case scenario is that the bouncer confiscates the fake ID, gives you a disapproving glare, and lets you go on your way. You may think of this as a loss, but you would consider yourself very lucky as it saves you a lot of time, money, and trouble for the future. However, worst case scenario is what the example above is meant to highlight. Getting caught at a bar or by a police officer will cause you a lot more problems than just figuring out where your next ID is coming from.

Most college students don’t realize is that using a fake ID can lead to extremely serious consequences. Using a fake ID has become such a ritualistic routine in a young college students’ career, that when the worst actually happens, these kids have no idea how to go about defending themselves and deal with the legality of the situation.

As highlighted in Fla. Statute § 322.212, it is unlawful to knowingly have in his or her possession any blank, forged, stolen, fictitious, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued driver license or identification card. If the above situation were to happen to you, you could potentially end up spending the night in a jail cell. If that is the case, you would be charged with the crime of obtaining a fake ID and trying to use it, which is penalized in Florida as a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

It is a second-degree misdemeanor if you have used someone else’s driver’s license or state issued identity card. The penalty is a $500 fine, sixty days in jail, and possibly a one-year suspension of your own driver’s license. It is also a second-degree misdemeanor to let someone else use your driver’s license or state identity card. The same punishment applies: $500 fine, up to sixty days in jail, and potentially a one-year suspension on your own driver’s license.  Even worse is if you identify yourself to a police officer with a fake ID, which is considered a first-degree misdemeanor charge. This is punishable with a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison. But wait, it gets worse: it is a felony charge if the fake ID in possession was stolen, fake, counterfeit, forced, fraudulent, or unlawfully issued. The violation of this law is punishable with up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. These charges can additionally lead to disciplinary hearings at your university, even if the crime happened off campus.  If you would like to read more about disciplinary hearings for college students, click here.

Tallahassee Fake ID Defense Attorney

It’s time for college students to wake up and see the reality of the situation. Although simply staying away from going out and drinking alcohol is the safest option, it is also wise for students to educate themselves and be prepared for the worst. Even if it seems like the popular thing to do as a student under 21, getting caught with a fake ID can have serious consequences, some irreversible, that can completely destroy your college experience and potentially your entire future. With the combination of court fees, fines, school suspension, community service, marks on your permanent record, and even potential jail time, it’s clear that this type of charge should be avoided at all costs if possible.

However, if you or a loved one have found yourself in the position like the example above and are in the need of help to fight a fake ID charge, it is imperative to reach out to a seasoned defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and team at Pumphrey Law Criminal Defense have seen this type of charge time and time again from FSU students and other college students across the state of Florida. Defenseless kids who made one mistake and now have to face the harsh consequences. Don and his team are ready to stand in your corner and fight for your rights and your future. Don’t let a fake ID ruin your chances for real success in the future.

This article was written by Karissa Key

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