Popular movies may portray the creation of a fake ID as a harmless prank, a rite of passage for those teen-agers hoping to pass themselves off as older than they really are.

What those popular movies don’t show is the life-changing aspects of being convicted of a serious misdemeanor or felony.

Pennsylvania punishment

Commonwealth law breaks down the crime:

  • Carrying a false ID is punishable by a fine of up to $500, a jail sentence of up to 90 days and suspension of your driver’s license. A second offense is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to one year in prison. If you are a high school or university student, you also face school sanctions or expulsion.
  • Using a false ID to buy alcohol is punishable by a 90-day license suspension and up to 90 days in jail. A second offense is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $500, one year in jail and two-year license suspension.
  • Making or selling a false ID is punishable by a fine of no less than $1,000 (if 18 or older) or $500 (if under 18). The fines jump to $2,500 and $1,000 for a second offense, respectively.

If you use the ID to get into a bar – even if you don’t drink alcohol – the establishment opens itself up to punishment including a mandatory fine of $1,500 for a first offense of furnishing alcohol to a minor. It goes to $2,500 for subsequent offenses.

Lifelong punishment

If you think employers or school admissions officers might be willing to go easy on you because of your age when you committed the crime, remember that fraud involves untrustworthiness and dishonesty. Given the choice between you and another candidate, they’ll almost always choose the other candidate.

Also remember that if you give up your personal identification to get a fake ID, that information could be used to make another fake ID or other forms of identity theft. That opens another world of problems that can be easily avoided.

The smartest move is to avoid the problem entirely. Whatever you want to do with a fake ID is usually not worth the trouble after you’ve been caught.

However, if you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with fraud because of a fake ID, contact a qualified, experienced attorney who can help guide you during this difficult time.