Skip to main content
Fake ID

What to do if you’re accused of having a fake ID

By April 10, 2023No Comments

It may seem innocent enough: you’re a college student who wants to hang out with your friends at a bar or watch a concert at a 21-plus venue, but you’re not yet 21. So you get a fake ID so you, too, can join in the fun.

What you may not know is that it is illegal to carry and/or use a fake ID to enter an adults-only establishment or purchase items that are only available to people 21 or older. 

If you slip by without getting caught using a fake ID, consider yourself lucky. But what if you weren’t so lucky?

From our team of experienced DC student defense attorneys, here’s what you need to know about fake IDs and the consequences you could be facing.

Here’s what you should do if you’re caught with a fake ID

If you’re caught with a fake ID, here are the steps you should take: 

  • Give up the ID: If a bartender, bouncer or law enforcement officer orders you to turn over your fake ID, do it. There’s absolutely no ID worth causing a scene over and ending up arrested or taken to a police station. 
  • Often, if you give up the fake identification card and leave the establishment you illegally tried to enter, that will be the end of the conflict. 
  • If it’s not the end, you could end up facing more than one criminal charge: Not only is it a crime to carry a fake ID, but it’s also a crime to use it. If you end up buying alcohol or cigarettes using a fake ID, you could also be charged with underage possession of alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana if it’s legal to purchase in your state. 
  • In most cases, being busted for having a fake ID is a misdemeanor offense, and an experienced college criminal defense attorney like Shanlon Wu will work to ensure your punishment is not too severe. Without an attorney, the punishment could range from probation to a few days in jail to a hefty fine, or up to a year in jail or longer, depending on what state you are in. 
  • In some states, possessing any form of false identification is a felony, which would mean the punishment could be much worse if convicted.

Should you hire a student defense attorney? 

If you’re a college student who’s been busted using a fake ID, you could not only face criminal charges – you could also be in violation of your college or university’s code of conduct.

This could result in disciplinary action from your school, in addition to criminal charges. University policies on fake IDs are designed to protect the safety and security of students and staff. University policies typically prohibit the use of fake IDs, and may impose penalties such as suspension or expulsion for students who are found to be in possession of them. In some cases, university police may also be notified of fake ID incidents.

That’s why it’s imperative that you contact an experienced student defense attorney if you’re in trouble for using a fake ID.

Contact DC Student Defense today

Shanlon Wu has ample experience defending college students accused of crimes and policy violations of all types. Contact his office today for a consultation.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

More posts by Shan Wu
Skip to content